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 trends.
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.