Legal Challenges to New Logan Airport Runway

JULY 17, 2001

Opponents of a proposed new runway at Logan International Airport came out swinging yesterday, vowing a high-stakes legal battle on several fronts that is likely to be long and costly.

"This runway is like the monster that refuses to die," said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, as he introduced a member from the powerful Boston law firm, Brown Rudnick Freed & Gesmer, the city has hired to block the runway. "With this legal team at work," Menino said, "I know that we can kill it this time around."

Menino said the legal options being explored include defending a 1976 injunction that originally barred the runway's construction. The team may also seek a new injunction to stop the completion or operation of the runway.

The 1976 injunction was obtained in Suffolk County Superior Court by the city, the state Secretary of Environmental Affairs and the state Secretary of Transportation. The latter two have signed off on the latest runway proposal and asked that the injunction be lifted -- leaving the city alone in that 25-year-old agreement. But yesterday, a lawyer representing several suburban towns said he has been retained by several of those communities to join the city's legal battle.

"There is definitely a number of communities, other than Boston, who are very interested in opposing the runway in court," said Braintree-based lawyer Bill Golden. Golden has represented Cohasset, Hingham, Hull, Somerville and Everett in earlier battles against Massport over the Logan runway issue. "This is the first time we have had a coalition of communities and their municipal governments band together on this scale to fight this," Golden said. "There will be no resolution of the legal matters regarding runway 14/32 until such time as all parties of interest have reached an agreement, and I believe that agreement will include the abandonment of any plan to construct runway 14/32."

Massport spokesman Jose Juves said the agency "feels the court is our strongest forum because the runway can be judged on its merits and it removes politics and hyperbole from the discussion."

Also joining the legal fray will be lawyers arguing on Massport's behalf courtesy of the region's high tech business community, officials said. The Massachusetts High Technology Council said it plans to hire a law firm in the next several weeks. Cort Boulanger, the council's spokesman, said businesses desperately need better service into and out of Logan.

"Making sure Logan is at full capacity is critical for the high-tech community who are traveling a lot and shipping goods in and out of Massachusetts," Boulanger said. "It's been a priority and we want to see it through to the end."

Source: Boston Herald

See also: Boston Retains Law Firm to Keep Injunction Against New Runway at Logan International (July 15, 2001)