Santa Monica’s Runway Shortening to Proceed

The TRO saving the Santa Monica Airport runway from being shortened has been lifted, with reconstruction set to begin soon. Santa Monica Smoke/Flickr

A temporary restraining order that had Santa Monica Airport supporters jumping for joy last week turned out to be short lived. The City of Santa Monica plans to start the process of shortening runway 3-21 on October 23 after Senior U.S. District Judge Ronald S. Lew denied a preliminary injunction and dissolved a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the process of reducing the runway length from nearly 5,000 to 3,500 feet.

The airport will be closed Monday through Friday from 9 pm to 7 am local during Phase 1 of the project. During times when the airport is open, the full runway length will be available.

During Phase 2, the start date of which has not yet been set, the airport will be completely shut down for about 10 consecutive days. At the completion of this phase, the available runway length will be 3,500 feet.

“Shortening the runway — which essentially denies airport access to a variety of aircraft operators — will have a major negative impact on area residents, businesses, general aviation and the flying public,” said NBAA western regional representative Stacy Howard.

Local airport businesses along with the major aviation organizations such as AOPA and NBAA are working hard to find a way to keep the airport open. "Judge Lew's decision to rescind the TRO opens the door for the city to act on its plan; but we continue to exercise our legal options for maintaining access to this airport, as we have done for decades," said Alex Gertsen, NBAA director of airports and ground infrastructure.

Santa Monica entered into a consent decree with the FAA in January that allows the city to shorten the runway now and ultimately close it all together in 2028. Pending litigation is challenging this agreement.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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