By Scott Schaefer
The South (King) County Area Transportation Board (SCATBd) on Tuesday (Jan. 15) released a ‘Legislative Request for Support’ that recommends siting a second airport in addition to Sea-Tac Airport.
This is kind of big news for all cities located around the growing – and noisier – airport.
“Siting of a second regional airport is critical,” the request said. “The State Legislature must spearhead this effort immediately by creating a regional airport siting commission. This is important for economic development, to relieve congestion around Sea-Tac Airport and to improve air, noise and traffic congestion for surrounding residents.”
THE PORT RESPONDS
As many of our Readers may recall, the Port of Seattle has never come out and endorsed a second, regional airport (“We don’t have a position on the specific topic of an airport siting commission at this time”); here’s how the Port responded to our inquiry about this news:
“Our region’s growing economy has resulted in significant increases in demand for commercial air service. As the largest such facility in the Puget Sound, Sea-Tac Airport is working to ensure that we are doing our part to safely and efficiently meet the current air transportation needs. As our region continues to look toward how we address future air travel demand, the Port of Seattle will be an engaged and active partner with our local communities –continuing to make necessary investments in our facilities while working to ensure that everyone shares in the benefits of this growth.
“We don’t have a position on the specific topic of an airport siting commission at this time. If something is introduced, likely we would bring it to the Commission, and that is generally our process for legislative matters. The Port of Seattle has often stated that we support a regional approach in setting the stage for future aviation planning.”
The Port’s Century Agenda (adopted Dec., 2017) states that their mission is to:
“Meet the region’s air transportation needs at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for the next 25 years and encourage the cost-effective expansion of domestic and international passenger and cargo service.”
And according to Seattle Business Magazine:
“Ultimately, people think we really need another regional airport,” says Weidenfeld. “Air cargo being moved to Moses Lake is one thing that is being looked at. Even 20 years ago, I think it was being talked about. It’s beyond time to do that.”
The Puget Sound Regional Council, which coordinates regional infrastructure planning, is launching a study of the regional air transportation system. But Rick Olson, the council’s director of government relations and communications, says there has been no discussion of creating a second regional airport.
“The basic regional policy right now is that we should maximize the abilities of our current airfields before considering new ones,” Olson says. “Siting a new airport is a complex proposition that involves understanding the markets, airlines’ interests, community impacts and all kinds of access issues.”
For their part, Port of Seattle officials say they have their hands full simply dealing with existing demands.
“Right now,” notes Perry Cooper, the port’s senior manager of media relations, “the region is growing so fast that we’ve got to manage what is here.”
“The $3.2 billion of investments that we are making is just playing catch-up,” Port of Seattle Executive Director Stephen Metruck admits. “This summer, we are engaging the public in our sustainable aviation master plan that will take us out 10 years. Then, the whole region needs to look at a regional approach [to the possibility of additional major airports.]”
“This is a truly forward-thinking initiative and it’s powerful to see that this organization – with membership including 15 cities and the Port of Seattle – has endorsed immediate legislative action to site a regional airport for the benefit of all,” said Larry Cripe, President of the Burien Quiet Skies Coalition.
“Kudos to the Port for working with this important organization – an organization that represents so many impacted communities and that is demanding a legislative commission right now to site a new airport. What a difference the Port’s involvement with the SCATBd and its legislative agenda can make in Olympia to improve air, noise and traffic congestion for our citizens,” added Sheila Brush, Founder of Quiet Skies Puget Sound.
Steve Edmiston, creator of The Briefing Project and a member of Quiet Skies Puget Sound, noted that the SCATBd action was in complete agreement with the Project’s recently proposed Port of Seattle Airport Neighbor Community (POSANC) Accords.
“The Eighth POSANC Accord calls for the Port to adopt as a policy priority the establishment of a regional airport to promote and preserve statewide economic growth while reducing the unfair burden placed upon human health and the environment in the airport neighbor cities,” Edmiston said. “If the Port’s membership in SCATBd reflects support for SCATBd’s legislative agenda, this is an extremely encouraging step by the Port that will be widely applauded across South King and North Pierce counties.”
The South (King) County Area Transportation Board (SCATBd) is a collaboration of local elected officials and stakeholders that serve:
- 15 cities in South King and North Pierce Counties
- Seattle and Tacoma Ports
- King County METRO; Pierce Transit and Sound Transit
- 721,300 people and over 329,000 jobs stretching through the 5th, 11th, 27th, 30th, 31st, 33rd, 34th, 37th, 43rd and 47th Legislative Districts
The South (King) County Area Transporta on Board Members include:
- Black Diamond
- Des Moines
- Federal Way
- King County
- Maple Valley
- Normandy Park
- Pierce Transit
- Port of Settle
- Port of Tacoma
- Puget Sound Regional Council
- Sound Transit