Abstract: Lambert-St. Louis International Airport's Alternative W-1W: A Case Study

Daniel L. Rust


Developed from farmland in the 1920s, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport found itself geographically constrained in the later twentieth century. While other cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, and Denver built new regional airports, St. Louis opted to enlarge Lambert to accommodate TWA hub operations. However, the airport lacked room to expand without purchasing land already occupied by commercial or residential development.Out of a lengthy investigative process emerged a preference for Alternative W-1W, requiring the removal of 2,000 houses as well as numerous churches, schools, and businesses. Construction of the alternative's $1.1 billion runway proceeded despite fierce public opposition. Meanwhile, American Airlines purchased TWA, a global decline in air travel followed the attacks of September 11, 2001, and American Airlines dramatically reduced its flight schedule at Lambert. Alternative W-1W now appeared, to many observers, to have been unnecessary. This essay examines the history of Alternative W-1W, including reasons for its construction, the controversy surrounding the project, and its potential in the post-9/11 era.

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