BURBANK — A congressman said Friday that the Federal Aviation Administration had awarded Burbank Airport $8.6 million for expansion expenses and criticized the federal agency for supporting the controversial project.
"The FAA jumped the gun," said Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City). "I strongly disagree with their decision to award taxpayer money to the airport for land acquisition--thus laying the groundwork for an expanded terminal before all pending legal questions have been settled."
In a statement, Berman, who is running for reelection, said the FAA announced that it was awarding the funds to the airport to purchase 13.62 acres of land alongside the airport from Lockheed Martin Corp.
Airport administrators want to use the Lockheed land, plus other parcels not yet acquired, to build a new terminal. The FAA has long supported the project, saying the current terminal, built more than 60 years ago, is too close to the runway to meet current safety regulations.
But many Burbank residents and members of the Burbank City Council oppose the expansion project, saying a larger terminal will bring more flights, traffic and aircraft noise.
Airport administrators counter that the number of flights depends on passenger demand, not the size of the terminal.
Airport administrators could not verify late Friday whether the grant had actually been awarded, said spokesman Victor Gill, adding he had no knowledge of whether the airport had even applied for such a grant.
"I will say this," Gill said. "If such a grant was made, it would be good news."