Bill seeks regional airport authority

A state representative from Delaware County, joined by 16 other lawmakers, introduced a bill in Harrisburg yesterday to create a regional authority to operate Philadelphia International, Lehigh Valley International, and other airports in the area.

Rep. Bryan Lentz said in a news release that establishing a Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Airport Authority could help reduce congestion at Philadelphia, which is owned by the city and is one of the nation's most delay-prone airports, by coordinating planning and operations at all the region's airfields.

The authority would be required to have cooperative agreements with state authorities in Delaware and New Jersey and to coordinate planning and investment with SEPTA and Amtrak, he said.

Lentz, a Democrat, said a regional authority would position the state to handle what is expected to be a 60 percent increase in flights to and from Philadelphia International by 2015.

Similar measures have been introduced in the state legislature in the past by lawmakers from Delaware County. Two-thirds of the Philadelphia airport lies within the county's boundaries.

The previous attempts to give more control of the airport to the suburbs have received a mixed reception in the past from Philadelphia political leaders.

In the early 1990s, Gov. Rendell, who was mayor at the time, and Mayor Street, then the City Council president, supported the concept of a regional authority, but only if the city retained substantial control. In 2004, the Street administration opposed an effort by Republican state legislators to take away its control of the airport.


Contact staff writer Tom Belden

at 215-854-2454 or tbelden@phillynews.com.