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Buffalo Niagara International Airport isn't expected to reach capacity for 20 years, but a number of improvements are under study in the meantime, about 30 people at a public information meeting on the airport's master plan were told Monday night.

While it remains to be seen how much of the plan will ever be implemented, it is known that the main runway will have to be resurfaced in about three years, which means the "cross-wind runway will have to be lengthened so that it can be used during the three-month construction period, said officials and advisers to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

The cross-wind runway, primarily used for general aviation now, will be lengthened toward the southeast from the current 5,373 feet to 6,700 feet to accommodate passenger jets.

But the cross-wind will still be considerably shorter than the 8,100-foot main runway, and Bert Road resident Raymond Unger expressed concern about its safety.

Consultant Howard Klein of URS Greiner Inc., said it will be adequate under federal regulations because it will not be in "regular use.

But Unger responded, "For three months it will be regular.

Also, larger "safety zones are planned for the ends of both runways.

No cost estimates have been prepared and the plan is subject to revision, William Vanecek, NFTA director of aviation, said during the meeting at the Radisson Hotel across from the airport.

Cheektowaga Councilman Thomas Johnson said the town wants to be involved in the planning process from the start and complained in a later interview that in the past the NFTA has been "less than responsive to the concerns of the town.

Noise abatement and flood control problems that could be created by additional paving topped Johnson's list of concerns.

Vanecek said the airport has been there since 1926 and "wants to be a good neighbor. He said new federal regulations concerning jet engine noise should help and the environmental review process requires that issues such as drainage and traffic be addressed.

Other areas to be studied in the master plan include adding hangar space and up to 12,000 square yards of additional apron space for general aviation and relocation of fueling and de-icing facilities.

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