MYNORTHWEST NEWS

New group would take a fresh look at Pierce, Thurston County airport sites

Feb 7, 2023, 1:19 PM | Updated: Feb 8, 2023, 1:14 pm

Photo: Alaska Airlines planes at Sea-Tac Airport....

Alaska Airlines planes at Sea-Tac Airport. (File photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

(File photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

A new work group may be examining potential sites for a new airport in the south Sound.

The Tacoma News-Tribune reports House Bill 1791 would create a group that would replace the Commercial Aviation Commission.

The group is intended to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the sites in Pierce and Thurston counties and beyond, community impact, and infrastructure issues. It will also have funds to report its progress to stakeholders and the public. There are provisions in the bill that would allow the group to consider sites anywhere in the state.

The sites that have been announced have gotten big pushback from community leaders and tribal groups.

The workgroup would be required to present Gov. Jay Inslee the results by Jan. 1.

State Rep: ‘None of these locations are suitable’ for a future airport

The bill was introduced by Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma), Rep. Tom Dent (R-Moses Lake), and 10 other members of the House.

“The state commercial aviation coordinating work group shall comprehensively evaluate the long-range commercial aviation needs of Washington within the broader context of state transportation needs and the specific needs of western Washington,” the bill reads.

Ground Zero for the Puget Sound region is forecast to be in 2050 when it’s projected that Sea-Tac Airport and Paine Field will no longer be able to handle the number of air passengers flowing through the region.

The three rural sites in Pierce and Thurston County were announced in September.

The bill also prevents the group from reviewing airport expansion opportunities in King County. The bill would also require that the working group raise and maintain awareness of its work, noting that the “pandemic interfered with the ability of the commercial aviation coordinating commission to perform a thorough and complete study of the possibility of a new commercial airport.”

As the bill reads:

The state commercial aviation coordinating work group shall comprehensively evaluate the long-range commercial aviation needs of Washington within the broader context of state transportation needs and the specific needs of western Washington. The work group shall review existing data and conduct research to determine Washington’s long-range commercial aviation facility needs while considering alternatives to additional airport capacity.”

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