Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Monday, Aug. 19, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

As San Diego evolved from a sleepy Navy town into a big city with tourism, its major industry, its waterfront airport, became woefully inadequate.

With a single and relatively short runway, Lindbergh Field cannot handle larger, transoceanic jets. But even if it could, its jampacked terminals can’t adequately process its current passengers. The airport has maxed out at just under 17 million passengers a year and simply cannot tolerate any more planes or bodies.

San Diego’s civic leaders have been seeking a solution to their dilemma for decades, so far without success. San Diego and its surrounding countryside are very hilly, and for decades, the Navy and Marine Corps have occupied the two best local locations for a new airport and refused to part with them.

One alternative, which San Diego has explored, is building a larger airport 115 miles to the east near El Centro and connecting it with the city via a high-speed train of some kind – no small feat because the virtually unpopulated territory it would have to traverse is ruggedly mountainous.

But 115 miles to the north via Interstate 15 lies an airport that is large, modern and withering for lack of passenger traffic.

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