Thursday, February 25, 2010

Traffic Check

Time for a capacity check - if I'm counting right, we will have six mainline and six regional planes departing every day, about 1140 seats per day. Last year Delta sold 423 hi-fare seats out of 600 per day offered. The fares look to be 30-40% less, so what will the sales be? Each airline needs to sell about 75% to break even, or 855 total. (SW can actually sell only 40% and get 35% reimbursed from St Joe). Its an interesting problem for both - no volume increase (423 of 1140) is 37%, obviously too low, but what is a realistic number? I would guess 50% increase or 635 per day, 55% load factor. A loser of about $16,000 per day each for Delta and St Joe, break even for SW. St Joe's $32M will last 5 years at this rate, so it's a question of how long Delta wants to bleed.

A doubling of traffic makes everybody well, and Delta could help by raising fares at VPS to drive more to ECP. The game will play out in Dallas, Atlanta, and Jacksonville, but Bay county passengers can't lose for now.

in reference to: Delta will add larger planes at new airport | airport, new, delta - News - The News Herald (view on Google Sidewiki)

Monday, February 22, 2010

School Taxes

I'm no expert on school districts, but I'd be very surprised if the county commission can restrict their levying of property taxes. Most "special districts" have their own enabling laws as political subdivisions - just like cities/counties, and those with elected boards can usually levy property taxes. Sales taxes are different and require a referendum. This is the same idea that has county commissions and the legislature running scared on Amendment 4 "Hometown Democracy" - THEY DON'T LIKE BINDING REFERENDA. Somebody (lawyer?) help me here...

in reference to: The News Herald (view on Google Sidewiki)

Dueling with a Straw Man


We don't conclude "all" or "100%" from ECP - you are changing the subject to a straw-man that is not the question.

At the forum last week, Baywatch presented linear studies of the creek/trib turbidity at various positions and times since 1995, using observations with instruments calibrated to control samples. There is no question that the general quality is lower and these spikes have only occurred since construction started. There are other sources, and the 388 project is significant, but nowhere near the scale of the airport releases. DEP has also documented these releases from on-site inspections using only airport discharges, and cited them in two Consent Orders the airport has signed (the second because of violating the first). Do you think they would sign these orders if they had a defense? Nobody is making this up or only speculating from eyeballing. DEP is now relaxing the permits to give them a shot at compliance before opening day. (Or, if you prefer, a shot at completing the project by opening day.) Based on today's pictures, it isn't going too well.

in reference to: The News Herald (view on Google Sidewiki)

Somebody Saw it Coming in 2002

bugger said,
"I can't believe nobody saw something like this coming."

I saw it coming and told them this in written comments - December 2002:

1. An airport is a very long-life development whose siting, design, and environmental mitigation strategy should provide for
many years into the future. Active airfields in this region date from the early 1940’s, already 60 years old and with indefinite
remaining life. It is appropriate to plan a permanent facility with at least 100 years of service life.

2. The physical scope of the project to be assessed should include: the airport fully built out (two parallel runways, one
crosswind runway, passenger terminal sized to accommodate the passenger traffic implied by two parallel runways, fuel,
cargo and general aviation facilities sized for full build-out, on-site and off-site stormwater treatment structures sized for full
build-out) and any cumulative impacts triggered by the presence of a hub airport (on-airport industries, off-airport industrial
and distribution facilities, commercial facilities, residential developments, roads, streets, utility corridors, and related
stormwater treatment structures). If the scope is reduced, the Airport Layout Plan (ALP) showing the ultimate planned buildout
should be permanently reduced accordingly, to assure that the environmental design is compatible with the ultimate
planned build-out. All the stormwater mitigation structures may not need to be built to ultimate capacity in the first phase, but
the environmental analysis should establish the requirements for building to full capacity.

3. Analysis of the ambient environment should follow the best science available, based on field observations in addition to
archived data, because the archived data is understood to be incomplete in the project area.

4. Seasonal studies of fresh water quality and flow from the site to West Bay should be done, and should cover an interval long
enough to recognize effects of the prolonged drought now in progress.

5. The design of the airport-plus-cumulative-impacts stormwater runoff treatment structures should produce effluent with
quality equal to or better than the ambient fresh water observed in the seasonal studies per Item (4.)

6. Construction should be phased and scheduled to avoid exposing more bare earth than the
stormwater runoff control structures and methods in place can treat to pre-construction
ambient water quality.

7. Temporary construction facilities such as mobile offices, employee parking, mobilization
and material laydown/storage areas should be designed and operated to treat stormwater
runoff to pre-construction ambient water quality.

8. In any event, including hurricane rainfall conditions, silt transport to Burnt Mill Creek and/or Crooked Creek and their tributaries in excess of pre-construction ambient conditions,
including hurricane rainfall conditions, should not occur during construction.

The permits say the same thing, but little effort was made to comply during construction until the lid blew off in April 2009.

in reference to: The News Herald (view on Google Sidewiki)

Thanks Caz

Thanks for speaking up, Caz.  The Southwest deal is a real winner but it's time to retire the "Preservation Forever" theme - if it was ever sincere, it's now out of reach and may threaten opening on time.  The only way to cure this is a phased stabilization from north to south (high to low) AND IT CAN'T BE DONE BY MAY 23.  It will get harder after operations begin and access to the site is secured.  They really have no choice but to "weather (pun here?) a storm of negative publicity".  And pay through the nose in fines and corrective action.  The consensus at the forum was that the fines should go toward actually buying some buffer lands for the public, rather than funding some showboating project that does nothing for West Bay.

The creeks are muddy again today:

More of my thoughts are over at the "forums-general topics-airport boondoggle" forum:

or at

Mr. Tannehill would probably like a do-over on the "Baywatch is in it for the money" quote.  Baywatch has been scrupulously neutral on the issues here and on the science.  The data at the forum was unequivocal: the creeks are worse off downstream of the airport, both geographically and historically.

The creeks at Hwy 388 - Feb 22 2010

Crooked Creek taking the worst hit today, but Burnt Mill probably over discharge limits.

in reference to:

"Crooked Creek taking the worst hit today, but Burnt Mill probably over discharge limits."
- The News Herald (view on Google Sidewiki)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

THE Beach

Since you brought it up, it appears something IS happening at the beach - Pier Park in particular is holding up well through a tough winter, and the "all in" commitment to Spring Break seems to be moderating. I have always felt the west end of the county has great potential on its own, and that is a primary reason I resisted sacrificing the present airport for less money than it took for Finch to ruin the creeks. A fully developed airport of any size is a unique resource that is almost impossible to obtain, and this city, county and authority just threw one away for chump change. Of course the whole Partners in Progress scam and the redev of an even more harmful project is icing on the cake. Losing the airport, the F-15, and maybe Sallie Mae will be very difficult for the eastern county to absorb. At least until St Joe is ready to do its number on East Bay. Now there's a pleasant thought...

in reference to: The News Herald (view on Google Sidewiki)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Time and Budget

It depends on which schedule and budget is in use. It was supposed to open in 2006, and pick your budget:
$89 Million

When the $129M was announced, I called the business editor of the News Herald and told him it would be at least $250M and he could file that away. I had no idea I would be the low bidder.

in reference to: Chairman Tannehill: ‘Project remains on time and on budget’ — The New ECP (view on Google Sidewiki)