Orange County supervisors approved plans Tuesday for a larger airport at the El Toro Marine base, despite two years of assurances to south county residents that a smaller facility with a rail link to John Wayne Airport would be built.
The switch to a backup proposal, which envisions handling 28.8 million passengers a year by 2020, comes late in the process for developing plans to reuse the 4,700-acre Marine Corps Air Station. The military is scheduled to leave in July.
The 3-2 vote helps to streamline the county’s planning process for the airport.
In jettisoning the linked airport plan, supervisors eliminated work on the costly people mover and upgrades to John Wayne Airport. John Wayne Airport, which would have grown under the other scenarios, would shrink even below its current load to 5.4 million passengers a year.
Supervisors, in their vote, also halted staff analysis on three smaller El Toro airport plans that called for facilities that could handle 10 million, 15 million and 20 million passengers annually by 2020.
But the action didn’t sit well with those who oppose an international airport at El Toro.
A final decision on the project is expected in December.