In anticipation of finalizing an extension to the John Wayne Airport settlement agreement next year, the Orange County Airport Commission has approved the selection of five companies to conduct environmental impact reports.
The commission voted 4 to 0 on Wednesday to approve the contracts. Commissioner Chris Welsh was absent.
Environ International Corp., Fehr & Peers, AECOM, Landrum & Brown and BonTerra Consulting will each analyze a different aspect of how the proposed settlement agreement, which sets JWA's passenger caps and strict curfews, could affect the environment. They will look at air quality, traffic and circulation, aviation, noise and environmental impact preparation, respectively. The cost of the studies will be $955,810.
The proposed agreement, which came from negotiations between Newport Beach and certain community groups, would phase in allowances of up to 12.5 million annual passengers by 2030.
Three settlement agreement alternatives will also be analyzed by the five companies. The alternatives are based on input from the Federal Aviation Administration, the air carriers that currently operate at the airport and information regarding the airfield and runway limitations as they are now. At most, the alternatives allow for up 16.9 million annual passengers passing through JWA by 2030.
The proposed agreement and all but one alternative would keep the curfews in place until 2035. One alternative extends the curfews to 2020.
Newport Beach and JWA will split the cost of the environmental impact reports, according to a memorandum of understanding.
The reports mark a necessary step toward the final approval of a proposed plan. If passed, it will be the second time the original settlement agreement has been amended.
The original settlement agreement dates back to 1985 and was intended to last through 2005. That settlement was amended in 2003 to provide guidelines for airport growth through 2015.
Discussions for the newest update began last year, said airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge.
Statements of qualification were solicited in May from companies interested in conducting the environmental impact reports.
"We're pleased with the progress," said Leslie Daigle, a Newport Beach City Council member and chairwoman of the Citizen's Aviation Committee, which monitors activities at the airport and makes recommendations to the council regarding policies.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors will vote on the contracts at its Sept. 10 meeting.