Airport celebrates while residents wait for payment decades later

By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - When you think of Louisville's growth, you may not think of the airport, but the city soared to new heights with the completion of the airport expansion. Now there's a new honor to that growth, while others are still waiting to settle the score.

Soon every time you fly, you'll see a picture and plaque responsible for the airports take-off.

"During his 21 years as Mayor of Louisville, Jerry Abramson has an extraordinary list of accomplishments to celebrate," said Phil Lynch, chairman of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority.

The board of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority and the Mayor both agree that the airport expansion ranks as number one.

"More than 140 businesses have located in our community and our region because of the ups air hub," Lynch said.

That's provided thousands of jobs and made our UPS hub the 7th busiest cargo airport in the world, not to mention the dramatic changes to the passenger airport. And it all came with a huge risk.

"This airport took a lot out of all of us and I don't come into or do I leave through it without thinking about the difficulties that a lot of folks had to deal with but the importance of what we decided that created an economic engine for our future," said Mayor Abramson.

In addition to several business relocations, more than 3,600 families had to move away from the airport due to its expansion and the noise the airport creates. But while the airport is done, the relocation is still a work in progress.

"There are still about 70 people to be moved," Lynch said.

About half them wish to move. The question WAVE 3 investigated is why hasn't the problem been resolved?

"At that time it was a lot smaller - we just added people as time's gone on," Lynch said. "It's been a process that's taken 22 years but if you remember when we originated the project it was only three routes involved and the additional homes were added later as a result of the new noise contour maps as a result of the expansion of the airport," Lynch concluded.

The airport says they have enough money to pay for those remaining homes, but it's getting hung up on legalities and other issues. As for homes impacted by the airport but don't qualify for a buy-out, there's a new home installation program paid for by the airport.

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