The Facts, Ma'am, Just the Facts...

 

Earlier this week a letter came to our offices accusing the airport of spending $14-million for a taxi stand. You know, a taxi stand—that place on the street where taxi cabs line up waiting for customers. The writer was furious. We don’t blame them.

 

There’s just one problem. We’re not building a $14-million taxi stand. It’s a taxiway. You know, a taxiway—one of those paths that connect ramps, terminals and other airport facilities. Airplanes use them to move from one facility to the other. This misunderstanding is understandable. What’s less understandable is what’s going to happen in the next week or two.

 

The bad information will be repeated and repeated. It will pass from one water fountain to another. Before long it becomes “truth”. Media outlets may pick it up and run with it. It's frustrating—but we digress. Let’s get back to that taxiway.

 

The airport will receive $14.8 million of federal stimulus money to build a new taxiway that runs parallel to runway 14/32 (click on the airport map to see a bigger version. The new taxiway is designated “whiskey.” The runways are in black. The taxiways and ramps are in gray). It will be 6,000 feet long and 75 feet wide. In order for it to withstand the weight of large jets, it will have concrete that’s 15 inches deep, with a sub-base that’s over a foot deep. That's as thick, or thicker, than new interstate highways.

 

Why build it? It’s a safety issue. Right now planes leaving the terminal have to cross the mid-point of runway14/32 in order to get to that runway’s northwest end. The taxiway will run parallel to the runway and will eliminate the need for crossing the runway. When you eliminate the need to cross the runway, you greatly reduce the chance of a ground collision between airplanes. We had planned to build the taxiway in a couple of years, but the stimulus money will help us build it much sooner.

 

That’s the story on the taxiway. Let’s get back to bad information…

 

The taxi stand story stands a good chance of spreading like wildfire. Why? The writer of the letter copied it to a local radio personality who traffics in innuendo and half-truths.

 

We live in an age where “information” is abundant, but knowledge is in short supply. Even traditional media outlets fall victim to the endless cycle of parroting bad information. An editorial page editor recently all but admitted to me that "Rose" and "Thorn" reader letters are not fact checked before they're printed in the paper (it was quite a tap dance). His solution, to correcting the factual errors in question, was for the airport to write a letter setting the record straight. In other words, the airport should help stir the pot further by putting more grist in the paper's chatter mill.

 

Thank you, no.

 

So that's the story on the taxiway. If you hear on good authority that the airport is building a glorified taxi stand, please set the record straight!

 

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