Input gathered on Detroit Metro Airport master plan

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Living just a few miles from Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Jean Hayes often hears the rumbles of the incoming planes.

That’s why when she learned about a master plan update for the airport, the largest in Michigan, the Dearborn Heights resident wanted to find out how it might affect her.

“I want to be informed and see what exactly they’re doing,” she said.

One possible plus: a runway is not needed in the 20-year planning horizon, according to the airport plans.

Hayes was among the hundreds of area residents who attended a public meeting on the plan Thursday night in Taylor at the Downriver campus of Wayne County Community College District.

Airport officials are gathering public input as they advance on the update, which the Federal Aviation Administration requires. The plan is expected to be finalized late this year.

Representatives said the last update was in 2009 and another is needed to reflect the long-term goals of managing passenger, cargo and general aviation activity over the next 20 years.

“Based on a recent assessment, we’re confident Detroit Metropolitan Airport is positioned to accommodate future activity and growth,” said Thomas Naughton, Wayne County Airport Authority CEO, in a statement this week. “Despite the expected growth in total passengers, our forecast indicates an additional runway at Detroit Metropolitan Airport is not anticipated to be needed within the next two decades. This is a key example of the important information we look at during the master plan update process.”

The meeting Thursday followed a similar one in Belleville this week for an update on the Willow Run Airport master plan. That site, which serves general aviation, cargo and corporate jet markets, also is run by the Wayne County Airport Authority and hasn’t been revised since 2006, officials said.

For the Detroit Metro update, consultants have been working since last year and a community advisory committee met earlier this month, spokesman Brian Lassaline said.

Later this year, the group is expected to address which facilities need to accommodate future demand and recommend strategies. Other public meetings are planned.

Fielding input from the community, either through meetings or online, remains “critically important” in helping shape the master plan, Naughton said Thursday. “We want to be good neighbors.”

The airport had more than 33 million passengers pass through last year and offers more than 1,100 flights daily to and from more than 140 destinations on four continents, officials said.

Total passengers were expected to increase an average of 1.3 percent each year between 2015 and 2035, while air cargo could rise an average of 1.7 percent in that time, according to an analysis the community advisory committee reviewed.

Darlene Dean of Taylor, who lives near the airport and wanted to learn about any possible expansions, said she welcomed the chance to weigh in on a major initiative.

“It’s nice that they’re asking for feedback from the community,” she said while surveying poster boards and taking notes. “They’re getting ideas from the community.”

But others were disappointed. Dennis Plucinsky of Dearborn Heights hoped to learn if the plan addressed any proposed development surrounding the airport and whether officials would consider direct transportation for passengers. “That we don’t have down here,” he said.