Decade-Old Runway Project at Lambert Ends Thursday

April 9, 2006 - Posted at 1:55 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ The most expensive improvement project in St.

Louis history is finally ready to open, after nearly a decade of

lawsuits and protests.

A new billion dollar runway at Lambert Field in St. Louis

will be officially opened on Thursday. But as it opens, airport

officials are acknowledging it may not be needed.

Lambert used to be a busy airport, with long waits for takeoffs

and flights the norm. It was the primary hub for T-W-A when the the

runway plan was approved in 1998.

But last year, air traffic at Lambert was down 36 percent since

the September eleventh attacks, partly because American Airlines

cut its St. Louis flight schedule by half.

Construction of the runway meant knocking down more than

two-thousand homes and other structures in Bridgeton. And St.

Charles residents protested the increased noise.

Elected and aviation officials will open the nine-thousand foot

runway during ceremonies on Thursday.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)