With King County Executive Ron Sims rejecting proposals for bringing commercial flights to Boeing Field, regional officials may still face...
With King County Executive Ron Sims rejecting proposals for bringing commercial flights to Boeing Field, regional officials may still face the daunting prospect of locating and building a second Puget Sound-area airport in the coming years.
Sims’ decision leaves the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as the only airport that offers major air service in the region.
Even though it is undergoing a major expansion, planners have long warned that Sea-Tac is expected to run out of capacity by 2021.
The Puget Sound Regional Council, a four-county transportation and economic planning agency, spent years studying air-traffic capacity and concluded in 1996 that the region needed a third runway at Sea-Tac and a second airport to the north or south.
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“We’re running out of capacity sometime in the ’20s, so we as a region need to seriously look for additional capacity,” said Charlie Howard, transportation planning director for the council.
After years of lobbying the state Legislature, a Senate bill was passed this year to begin a four-year study on the state’s air capacity at the state Department of Transportation.
The aviation division is searching for a consulting firm to begin the first phase of the study, which will look at airport capacity statewide.
At the end of the study, a governor-appointed commission is expected to make recommendations.
King County Councilman Dwight Pelz, D-Seattle, predicts that recommendation will lead to the same community furor that the Boeing Field proposals stirred.
“There’s nothing more difficult than siting an airport. It’s easier to site a waste plant, it’s easier to site a jail, prison,” Pelz said. “When we begin that battle in the next five or 10 years, there will be voices saying let’s revisit Boeing Field … It’s about the most political thing you can do.”