City Government

Clegg Favors $100,000,000 Third Runway At BOI

Incumbent Boise City Council candidate Elaine Clegg issued a press release today in which she favors a third runway for Boise’s airport at a cost of $100,000,000 to resolve jet noise concerns of homeowners living near the airport.


Boise City Council member Elaine Clegg responds to Bench neighborhood jet-noise concerns
I would like to respond to concerns about jet noise that have been raised by citizens living in the Bench neighborhood near Gowen Field. First of all, I care very much about the quality of life for people living in this neighborhood. Residents here (as elsewhere in Boise) deserve to have their quality of life protected.

The current Idaho Air National Guard mission is combat-support training on the A-10. The A-10 is a relatively low-noise military aircraft. Prior to the A-10 mission, Gowen hosted F-4s, which are noisier than the F-15s. In other words, residents of the neighborhood have been exposed to the noise being predicted if the mission were to change. Here is the situation as I see it:
The Air National Guard missions require minimal flights per day (most often 12 total, in two rounds of six). The F-15s in Boise this summer were preparing to deploy and, therefore, were flying constantly while here. That is not what would happen with a new mission; it would be the same as today’s mission in number of flights, just with a different aircraft.

Some time ago, the Air Force (in D.C.) decided the A-10 would be retired in 2018. Boise City therefore voluntarily initiated a noise study. We wanted to understand what we might be facing if that plane were retired. We also wanted to become eligible for mitigation grants, if needed. Not doing a study to prepare for a potential replacement would be irresponsible.

Congress subsequently stepped in, postponed the A-10 retirement plans, and asked the Air Force to provide evidence that it had another aircraft that could fill the role of the A-10. That’s going to take some time, since no other aircraft seems viable in that role. The current draft study still assumes the A-10 will be gone by 2020, which is no longer accurate. We know that now, but the draft under review was completed before that was clear. The once-likely scenario of a new aircraft arriving in Boise before 2020 is now unlikely, and I will advocate that the final study reflect that probability.

In the meantime, if and when the A-10s are retired (now some years off), the Air Force is the entity that will choose or not choose to give Gowen Field a new mission and, if so, what aircraft will be assigned. (Many believe there should be a new mission, for a variety of reasons; others are concerned about the change.) At that point an environmental assessment would be triggered, which would require much public input in order to be completed.

Moving the Air National Guard to Mountain Home is not a good option, since the Air National Guard probably could not fill their pilot seats in Mountain Home. Pilots choose Boise  due to the same quality-of-life issues that the Bench neighborhood cites.

Finally, the solution to all of this is to build a third airport runway one mile south. That would put all of the noise contours out of range of the neighborhood. At an estimated cost of $100 million, however, the city can’t begin this project until we are eligible for federal grants, unless we bond all of our airport revenue capacity to the project—not a very good business practice.

So there we are: The longer this mission question takes to resolve, the more likely we can build the third runway. In the meantime, the airport has been responsible in trying to learn the potential impacts of a changed Air National Guard mission.
—Elaine Clegg

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Aaaand zero mention of the F-35’s. Why is that, I wonder?

  2. Mike Salazar
    Oct 26, 2015, 11:38 am

    Heather R., you missed the whole point of the release. She lays it out very clearly what to expect with possible changes in the pipeline. Do you not see that the F35 will likely be a bust? A10s are here to stay for quite some time.

  3. I don’t think we can count them out, Mike. The reality is, the Canadian gov’t has a pending contract for some F-35’s- if we’re selling them as a viable option to other countries, who are presumably considered our allies, then they’re probably not off the table for our own military’s use. I didn’t miss the point. I’m pointing out that there is info being omitted, presumably on purpose.

  4. Canada might become the first country to pull out of the F-35 program

  5. And we’ll call the third runway…
    Mountain Home Air Force Base.

    I don’t want to waste $100,000,000.00 on a new runway when we have an existing military base just 30 miles to the East. Unless that new runway is one heck of a long way away, say 10 miles to the South, it just wouldn’t help with the problem of excessive noise. F-15’s are crazy loud taking off in afterburner, and F-35’s are TWICE as loud as F-15’s.

    I hate her line of reasoning that we had excessive noise in the past, so it shouldn’t matter that we get screwed again.

    Daddy beat you before, so it’s ok if daddy keeps beating you.

  6. And how would a third runway that doesn’t cause noise problems be connected to the existing runway/taxiway network? 15 minute taxi times?

  7. One of the money grubbing reasons why the city wants the fighter base here is because after 25 years of screwing with I-84 and I-184, the local road builders have finally run out of ways to bilk us with that road. They need a new years-long paving project or they’ll liquidate.

    Did you know they just replaced pavement at MHAFB?… perfect time to close the base I guess.

    The A-10 retirement may be a ways off, but Boise might be one of the first to be disbanded. On the other hand, a less retarded President of the United States may keep the A-10 around years longer… because it is the best terrorist killer the world has ever seen… and we are probably just getting started on that project. Ask a tally-whacker what he fears most… A-10. We could also buy SU-25s which are also effective. Russia currently killing terrorist with them now. (Low, slow, big anti-everything guns)

    BTW: The F-35 is the F-105 of our time. It’s the product of a 30 year long engineering geek conference. Stubby wings and big engine on cast iron bath tub… anyone who knows how to shoot will swat em down like flies. F-105 pilots use to say “banking with the intent to turn”. Then they invented the F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18 because of that terrible experience in Nam. A lot of the thunder in Rolling-Thunder was F-105s hitting the ground. Now that we dominate the sky again the engineers figure a big dopey airplane with cool computers is good enough. So if our opponent is a really skilled killer… F-35 is bad idea. If our opponent wears dirty diaper on his head… F-35 technology is not needed. Next opponent probably will be very skilled killers, China or Russia perhaps.

    And yes, just a handful of F-35s will bust Canada’s budget… and they just elected an extreme liberal leader too.

    Did Clegg care to notice there are thousands of homes off the end of a runway “one mile south”? And she did not care to mention that F-35 or F-15E will be almost exclusively used in the dark. The visiting F-15As Cs and Es the past few years were ordered to be very very quiet and be finished flying by 11pm.

    We are being very intentionally lied to by people at all levels of government on this F-35 basing thing.

  8. While I agree with many Ms. Clegg’s points and appreciate her more practical stance, I take issue with the letter coming from her campaign. Of course in an election period you are going to take very thoughtful approach that appeals on some level to everyone. One can read her message and see support to protect the neighborhoods, and another reader can see support for F-35 and the message the noise is not really that bad as it has been in the past.

    If she had any guts on the matter she would state on City Council letterhead her support for F-35 at Gowen Field, or not, not a warm fuzzy campaign, please vote for me notice.

  9. Not a sufficient reason.
    Not reality.
    Not practical.
    Pilots choose to be pilots and go where the Guard assigns them or where they can be assigned if they want an alternative location.

    “since the Air National Guard probably could not fill their pilot seats in Mountain Home. Pilots choose Boise due to the same quality-of-life issues that the Bench neighborhood cites.”

    $100,000,000 will buy a LOT of carpool miles for crews to Mtn. Home.

    I support whatever the Air Force deems necessary for realistic reasons.
    “Probably” could not fill the seats is NOT a realistic reason.

    ANDY HAWES is running against Clegg.

  10. It might sound a bit callous, but the airport’s been there since at least 1936. If you don’t want to hear the planes, don’t buy a house so close to it. I live off Broadway and the freeway. Seriously don’t know what all the noise fuss is about.

    EDITOR NOTE–Given your logic, wouldn’t it stand to reason that ANG pilots serve at the direction of the commander? Will these guys leave their nation’s defense wanting just because they have to fly out of Mt. Home? We think not.

    We heard a Colonel warn citizens of potential “under recruitment” if his men had to go to Mt. Home to fly supersonic jets instead of Boise. So much for the “volunteer force” if they will only serve under their own rules.

  11. Here is her real position minus the 1/2 truths and unfounded positions written in this letter.

    2010 Entire Boise City Council support

    Boise Memo Intergovernmental Affairs

    “It is critical to demonstrate to the Air Force that the F-35 is welcome here. Local support will be an important selection criteria and an advantage that Idaho likely has over at least some of our competitors. A multi-prong state/local effort is underway to encourage attendance and show broad, public Idaho’s support for bringing the F-35 in Idaho. The Mayor and Council members are encouraged to attend one or all of these meetings. “

  12. CJ Petrovsky
    Oct 27, 2015, 6:30 pm

    All comments about volunteer force and commutes are spot on.

    But a question: How many ANG pilots are actually in the Boise unit? (I’m hazarding a wild guess that it’s way less than 100.)

    Doesn’t it make more sense to go with the greater good? Inconvenience these pilots for the sake of 500 (minimum) or 3300 (I’m betting more realistic) homes staying habitable. (Let’s see…that would be probably 1500 residents.)

    And for Pete’s sake, I’d think that pushing for $100 million in new runway when there are obviously more cost-effective ways to skin this cat (e.g., MHAFB) would be seen as what it is: lunacy.

    J Smith: Thanks for calling BS on the “we had noise before” line.

  13. A-10s needed pronto! I hope we can get better video quality this time.

  14. Dave Kangas
    Oct 28, 2015, 8:26 am

    While we continue to hear “move them to Mtn Home” we need to know if they are wanted by the air force at Mtn Home or even if Mtn Home can even handle the extra traffic. I have heard it cannot.

    In my email to Mayor Bieter I pointed out that the air force will have to invest 10’s of millions to upgrade the infrastructure at Gown Field to handle a new aircraft. Why not put that investment into the runway a mile to the south?

    With the proposed f-15 mission someone is going to need to cough up millions more to mitigate around 419 households. Households that would now be in a zone not suitable for residential use. We might even have to pay to sound proof schools outside of this noise contour, so that they can function.

    Earlier this year the Governor, the Lt Governor made numerous press releases about supporting the military mission at Gown Field. He even created a “military advocacy task force” which has not been filled. google “gowen strong”

    At a recent presentation by the airport concerning the Boise airport 150 noise study the number I heard was $60M. The economic impact of the air guard mission here was stated by air guard personnel as $254M annually. Spending $60M-$100M to preserve a $254M economic impact, seems like a good investment to me.

    If the City, the State, the FAA and the air force want the f-15 here, in the long run the investment into the third runway is attainable and reasonable with funding from all parties. The third runway would also offer the option of expanding the mission(I think, not verified). The noise study showed that f-15’s at the third runway would have no impact on homes. At least none would be in the “not suitable for residential use” zone. I am sure their home out there that would be impacted by a change in flight patterns though.

    Personally, if the Governor actually supports the mission as strongly as he stated earlier this year, they need to cough up some money.

    For years now our legislature has championed property rights. They have vilified eminent domain, even limited its use through legislation. Here we have an issue of 419 home owners being displaced, property values threatened and state thinks that is okay.

    I do not.

    Push for the third runway, push hard and keep the mission here. Or watch this community get torn apart by litigation, anger and dissent. Imagine the Eagle Chevron station issue times 419.

  15. Dave Kangas
    Oct 28, 2015, 8:29 am

    By way, the comment period concerning the f-15’s and the noise study has been extended to November 13th.

  16. Thanks, Dave Kangas, for a well reasoned analysis of the situation, without the name-calling all too prominent here.

    A lot of comment here seems to miss the point that Gowen’s ANG mission is training. The occasional placement of MHAFB jets here have had a different mission, often preparing to deploy overseas, combat ready.

    Of course, guys (and gals) usually fully employed in other jobs, are not gonna want to drive to Mountain Home; and we’re not just talking pilots—whole crews are involved.

    It kinda amazes me, given all the hawkish, self-proclaimed patriots here, how many get all willy-nilly when it comes to sharing some of the civilian burden of our military preparedness.

  17. F-35, The overpriced airplane that nobody wants because it’s obsolete already. The only reason Air Force and Navy were buying is because Lockheed Martin forced them too. I would not be surprised if the entire program was caped in a year or two in favor of a more useful and less expensive craft.

    Of the possibilities for Boise, F-35 is the loudest, F-16 next, followed by F-15E. (noise generated, not speed/weight etc.)

    We must not relent, they want noisy airplanes here… it’s big money for them at City Hall (and friends). There are visiting military squadrons from all over the world coming here right now with many different aircraft types… so we must force Boise City to have a realistic and permanent solution.

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