There was an elephant in the room at the July 17 public meeting on the Salt Lake City International Airport’s master plan. That elephant was the proposed Inland Port that would share nearby land, air, infrastructure — and potential legal and financial liabilities — with our growing airport.
The slideshow by Airport Executive Director Bill Wyatt and RS&H engineers skipped the Inland Port as a planning issue. It didn't list port promoters Envision Utah or Inland Port Authority as stakeholders to be included.
Audience questions made clear that airport planners have not factored in likely impacts from inland port construction and operation that could seriously limit design, construction and operation of an expanding airport. Airplanes are air polluters as they fly in, idle and take off.
Some inland port scenarios could significantly increase freight and passenger aircraft volume, causing airway congestion and air quality degradation that would subject Salt Lake and Davis counties to fines and litigation.
If air traffic had to be cut back, would the inland port or the airport take the biggest hit? If the FAA, the EPA and other regulators require design changes, will the city's airport team or the Legislature's Inland Port Authority prevail?
I'm betting the elephant wins that contest.
Stanley Holmes, Salt Lake City