By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
But a year later, the Grading Calculations table buried in the El Toro Financial Analysis technical report indicated a far larger—and more expensive—operation. According to the new calculations, engineers would have to cut more than 23 million cubic yards of dirt—enough to form five Hoover Dams—and fill a similar amount over the course of 20 years. The technical report estimates such a project would cost more than $145 million—a figure that, like all the county's financial estimates, seems low.
12. Re-grading. No matter the scale of El Toro's future earthmoving projects, the runways will still have gradients of between 0.52 percent and 0.91 percent. Runways 35R and 35L, which head north-south, won't change much, but east-west runways 8L and 8R will look radically different.
It's hard to tell from the ASMP which end of those runways will look worse. After the grading operation, the western end of runways 8L and 8R will rise more than 60 feet, taking on the characteristics of a tabletop. Drivers on the perimeter road that wraps around the western edge of the base were once able to see straight down the runway; if the county gets its way, those drivers will be looking at a 60-foot wall of dirt.
The opposite will occur at the eastern end of the runways. There, lowering runways 8L and 8R will create a sharply sloping hill at the end of the pavement. For now, the base perimeter road is dead even with the runways; in the future, it will eventually be 40 feet over it.
13. Out of gas. Aircraft engines need kerosene, and it's by no means certain that fuel will ever get to the county's airport. County El Toro spokesman Marine Lieutenant Colonel Tom Wall (retired), who has a tendency to minimize the impacts of the proposed airport, frequently tells people that fueling El Toro will be no problem: the county will use a couple of nearby fuel pipelines to get the precious—and highly combustible—kerosene to the proposed tank farm on the base's southern edge.
But the county's spokesman doesn't know his ass from a 40-mile-long hole in the ground. The pipelines are, by the county's own measure, useless to El Toro International. The eight-inch line once used by the Marines, which runs from the Defense Fuel Depot in Norwalk, was fine for a base handling a couple of hundred flight operations per month. But it's much too old and thin to supply an airport doing that every day. A second 16-inch line is already spoken for: it pumps fuel to Camp Pendleton.
14. Petroleum parade. So never mind the county's high-profile spokesperson. How will the county really fuel El Toro International? Trucks. The El Toro EIR proposes that the future airport's fuel will come from hundreds of tanker trucks rolling in and out of the airport 24 hours per day.
"The Proposed Project assumes facilities configuration and activity reflecting tanker truck delivery, which is the method of fuel delivery to John Wayne Airport," which is how the dry ASMP puts it.
For comparison's sake, note that 23 fuel trucks arrive daily at John Wayne—every one of them after 11 p.m. But the plan for El Toro calls for an average of 244 trucks—each carrying 8,000 gallons of kerosene—to arrive daily at the airport. Since the county estimates it will take one hour to connect, unload and then disconnect each truck, it will have to move 10 trucks into the tank farm every hour of every day of every year.
A solid 60 percent of the county opposes the proposed airport, but county officials are hell-bent on building it anyhow. They want to start demolishing buildings next December; they want the first airliner to land sometime in 2005.
In an attempt to blunt the opposition, pro-airport supervisors said two weeks ago they wanted to limit El Toro to just 18.8 million annual passengers (MAP). This is clearly a public-relations ploy, and it's not even a new one: Coad first floated the idea of keeping El Toro at 18.8 MAP way back in October 1999.
In any case, airports expand. This is a fact the residents who live near LAX and John Wayne know only too well.
Pro-airport Supervisor Chuck Smith understands this, too, which is why he told federal government officials during a Nov. 29, 2000, meeting at the White House, "We never planned to have a 38 MAP airport right off." Instead, Smith outlined for FAA, Navy and White House officials an airport that "will be developed in phases. Other boards will make future decisions whether or not to build larger airports based on demand."
What the airlines want is another story entirely. Few have expressed any interest in El Toro. Asking them to maintain their John Wayne operations and then set up shop seven miles down the road as well is too much.
Whatever gets built at El Toro will boost highway traffic. The county's own propaganda states the proposed airport will increase OC traffic by a massive 176,123 average daily trips. The county tries to offset this huge increase with two not-so-subtle tricks.
The first is that whatever traffic the airport causes will pale before that inflicted by anything other than an airport. County propaganda projects that "a non-aviation use" will produce a staggering 339,000 average daily trips.