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Louisville International Airport Looks to Resolve Uber/Lyft Question in 2015

In 2015, Louisville International Airport officials plan to focus on expanding services and mitigating noise.

Skip Miller, executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority, on Tuesday discussed with reporters plans for the new year.

Uber and Lyft

Louisville International Airport has banned transportation services Uber and Lyft from picking up passengers.  While they are allowed to drop off passengers, anyone driving for Uber or Lyft who pick up a passenger are subject to fine, Miller said.

Kentucky transportation officials have recently enacted emergency regulations for Uber and Lyft, and Miller said airport officials are reviewing the regulations and hope to soon have a protocol in place that will enable the services to operate at the airport.

“Our rules and regulations are based upon those regulations that are embedded in both state statute and local Louisville ordinance,” Miller said.  “We anticipate sitting down with Uber and Lyft both after we’ve had a complete review of those regulations and have a conversation with them about how we are going to modify our rules and regulations in order to allow them to operate.”

Miller said airport officials have a goal to allow Uber and Lyft to operate pick-up services at the airport. He said the companies may be able to operate for pick-up services as early as March 2015.

Currently, airport regulations do not recognize the two services as a commercial ground transportation provider, Miller said.

“They are a different animal,” he added.  “They are not considered a taxi and they are not permitted to act as a taxi.”

Noise Mitigation

The issue of noise pollution has been a longstanding barrier between the airport and the surrounding community.

Two programs are aimed at “reducing the noise impact on our surrounding communities,” Miller said. He said they've had “significant success” since their inception.

The Quieter Home Program along the Preston Highway corridor was launched in 2008 and has assisted 179 families in reducing aircraft noise within their homes.  The project allows residents who qualify to boost home insulation, install new windows and doors and, in some cases, new HVAC units. The additions come at no cost to the residents, Miller said.

All eligible residents are expected to have completed the sound-insulating process by September 20, 2015, Miller said.

The Residential Relocation Program aims at getting people out of heavily noise polluted areas. The voluntary program has assisted 3,740 families find new homes in the area. Just 46 eligible families have not used the program, said Linda Solley, the airport relocation manager.

She said it is not always easy to relocate someone.

“This is a challenge for some folks,” she said.  “Making a new home is, under the best circumstances, not an easy thing to do.”

Ongoing Projects

Miller said recently completed and ongoing projects at the airport are signs that the Louisville aviation industry is growing, despite a near $37 billion loss experienced by the domestic airline industry as a whole since 2000.

These projects include a recently opened taxiway that will accommodate the “largest commercial aircraft being built today.”

The new taxiway cost nearly $46 million, provided by “both federal and local dollars,” Miller said.

He said the new taxiway—and the ability to handle larger aircraft—ill be a significant gain for Louisville’s air cargo system, specifically UPS, he said.

As home to the UPS global air hub, Louisville International Airport is the world’s seventh busiest airport. UPS is also Louisville's largest employer.

Another significant project underway is the $27 million relocation of Crittenden Drive from north of the Watterson Expressway to an area south of Strawberry Lane, Miller said. About $6 million for the project was provided by the Louisville Redevelopment Authority, with the rest coming from the state.

The relocation project consists of three phases, two of which have been completed. The third phase is the construction of an overpass of Woodlawn Avenue. These construction efforts made the development of the large taxiway possible, Miller said.

Miller said this is a “huge project” that is “very important both for the community as well as the airport authority.”

Projects such as runway and terminal enhancements are also in the works for 2015, Miller said.

“We hope to be able to address some needs, in terms of basic infrastructure within the terminal building,” Miller said.

Mechanical, electrical, interior finishing and community branding are all priorities for enhancing the terminal areas of the Louisville International Airport, Miller said.

“We want to make sure the community branding and imaging that is out there in the community is incorporated in the terminal building,” he said.

The redesigned terminals are expected to be completed by May 2016.

Several paving projects are also scheduled to begin in 2015 for Bowman Field, Miller said. Bowman Field is one of the longest running airports in the country and houses more aircraft than any facility in Indiana and Kentucky.

SDF By the Numbers

Louisville International Airport offers nonstop service to 21 destinations.  In the 2014 fiscal year, the most popular domestic destinations from Louisville International Airport were:

  1. Chicago
  2. Atlanta
  3. New York
  4. Baltimore
  5. Orlando
  6. Tampa
  7. Dallas
  8. Las Vegas
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Philadelphia
  11. Denver
  12. Houston
  13. Phoenix
  14. Charlotte
  15. Minneapolis

The most popular international destinations were:

  1. Cancun
  2. Toronto
  3. London
  4. Montego Bay
  5. Nassau
  6. Punta Cana
  7. Mexico City
  8. Frankfurt
  9. Paris
  10. Montreal
Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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