The St. Louis metropolitan area is currently conducting the first regional aviation system plan in the nation under the federal government's new
aviation planning guidelines. This plan is a cooperative effort among the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Illinois Department of Transportation,
Missouri Department of Transportation, and East-West Gateway. Gateway is managing the study. A consulting team led by Edwards & Kelcey with
additional expertise provided by InterVistas, Vector Communications, and Vesta-Rae & Associates has been selected to perform the study.
The primary objective of the study is to develop a St. Louis Metropolitan Aviation System Plan, which
will examine the region's aviation assets and propose a regional approach for the future development of these assets. The study will:
- Identify the region's long-range air transportation needs;
- Make recommendations on how to maximize the efficiency, effectiveness and safety of existing and planned aviation assets; and
- Explore mechanisms for regional cooperation and integration in the development and operation of these aviation assets.
While the metropolitan area hosts two public-use commercial airports and eleven public-use general
aviation airports, the study's primary focus will be the region's five major airports: Lambert-St. Louis
International; MidAmerica St. Louis; Spirit of St. Louis; St. Louis Downtown Parks; and St. Louis
Regional. These airports span two states – Missouri and Illinois – and fall under the jurisdiction of
two different FAA regions. Such multi-jurisdictional layers can complicate matters, but East-West
Gateway is one of a handful of metropolitan planning organizations in the nation that assist the FAA with regional airport system planning.
As currently designed, this study consists of two phases. Phase I, which is underway until June
2006, seeks to provide a comprehensive assessment of the current airport facilities, their roles within
the region, and airport demand, management and funding. It will also examine the pressing system and community issues; study the overall regional transportation network; and offer an integrated
analysis of the existing system's main components. These components include the five study airports, the regional transportation network and local population, demographic and socio-economic
Phase II of the study will build upon the information, analysis and public input generated in Phase I.
It will use the data gathered to assess evolving trends within the aviation industry and to evaluate the
impact of these trends on the future roles / traffic of the study's airports. From its findings, the study
team will then develop a system plan with recommendations regarding priorities for future development.
Critical to the success of the St. Louis Metropolitan Aviation System Plan is the implementation of a
comprehensive public engagement process. This effort must help citizens and stakeholders understand the planning issues and process so that they are adequately informed of the study's
activities and can contribute to its findings in meaningful ways. Throughout the entire span of Phase
I of this project, public engagement activities will be ongoing as a means of helping the study team
to identify and clarify important community issues. To this end, the study team has conducted
close to 30 stakeholder interviews with local aviation experts, planning officials and economic development interests. It has also facilitated four focus groups with business associations in
Missouri and Illinois as another method of gaining value information from private sector users of the region's aviation assets.
In addition to the stakeholder interviews and the focus groups, the study team developed a Study
Advisory Committee (SAC) made up of the region's airport directors, business community members and federal, state and local government officials. Members of this committee:
- Serve as advisors to the process;
- Provide input on technical data;
- Provide input on public engagement and public comments; and
- Serve as study ambassadors.
During Phase I, the SAC will meet three times. The first SAC meeting was held on September 30,
2005. At this meeting, members learned of and helped to refine the study's key objectives as well
as articulated their expectations of the study. The second meeting is scheduled for Thursday,
March 16, 2006 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. At this meeting, the study team will present the data it has collected from its inventory of the current
system, economic and demographic trends analysis, regional transportation system analysis, and public engagement activities.
For more information, contact Jerry Blair, Director of Transportation Planning for East-West
Gateway Council of Governments at (314) 421-4220.