The Washington area's three major airports face continued strong growth in air traffic over the next decade and will require more than $1 billion in improvements, according to a draft report released yesterday.
The number of commercial passengers using Dulles International, Baltimore-Washington International and National airports is expected to rise from 32.8 million in 1986 to 58 million in the year 2000, an increase of 77 percent, according to a study by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Maryland State Department of Transportation.
The report comes as the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is completing plans for about $1 billion in new terminals, parking structures, runways, roadways and other improvements for Dulles and National.
The Maryland State Aviation Administration's 20-year, $583 million plan for improvements at BWI includes expanded terminal space, an additional runway, more parking and roadway work.
The report cites "imbalances and deficiencies" in the facilities at all three airports and recommends a list of $1.2 billion in improvements "if the Washington-Baltimore region is to keep faith with the mandate and responsibility vested in it by Congress."
Some residents who live near BWI and National have opposed plans for airport improvements, saying that additional flights would generate more aircraft noise.
The report predicted that as the number of flights at Dulles and BWI increases, surrounding areas will experience more noise. The noise level at National is expected to decrease because its number of flights is restricted and airlines are introducing quieter engines for planes using the airport.
Because of the limits at National, most air traffic increases in the region will occur at Dulles and BWI, the report said.
Dulles is expected to handle 22.4 million passengers in 2000, a 160 percent increase over the 8.6 million it had in 1986. BWI is forecast to handle 16.4 million in 2000, almost double its 1986 level of 8.6 million.
National faces an estimated 19.2 million passengers in 2000, a 23 percent increase over its 1986 level of 15.6 million. Most of the growth is expected to come from higher passenger loads, the report said.