SFO runway plan taking off

Constrained by the Bay and U.S. Highway 101, the San Francisco International Airport is not able to fully implement required runway-safety areas, but will still pass muster, according to airport officials.

The airport has come up with a design acceptable to the Federal Aviation Administration, which has mandated that airports nationwide have specific runway-safety areas in place by 2016, Cathy Wagner, an airport official, said Wednesday.

The mandate was imposed to reduce the safety threat to passengers if an airplane travels beyond the runway surface.

“There is not sufficient space for us to construct traditional asphalt [runway-safety areas] at the ends of two of our parallel runways,” Wagner said. “We will be deemed in compliance with these

The proposal is to use a special material described as “a spongy, crushable concrete that assists in the stoppage of an aircraft.”

The federal government will pay for 75 percent of the $200 million project. The airport will cover the remaining $50 million by using revenue from the general airport revenue bond.

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee approved legislation Wednesday that said the project is fiscally feasible, allowing it to move forward.

“Although the proposed [runway-safety] project would provide that only five of the eight improved runways fully comply with the FAA’s design criteria and that only four of the eight improved [runway-safety areas] would be completed by the Dec. 31, 2015, federal deadline date, we still recommend approval of the proposal resolution because the proposed project would result in increased aircraft and passenger safety and the proposed project provides for the highest level of safety enhancements without extending the areas of the airport out into the Bay or relocating Highway 101,” Budget Analyst Harvey Rose said.

The full Board of Supervisors will vote on the legislation Tuesday.

Airport safety

Airports across the country must implement new runway-safety areas by Dec. 31, 2015.

$200M Cost of the runway safety project at SFO

75 percent Project cost paid for by the federal government

$50M Remaining cost to be covered by SFO using funds from the general airport revenue bond


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