Commission preparing for fallout if new WA airport location isn’t found

Apr 5, 2023, 9:50 AM | Updated: 11:43 am


A flight lands at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on March 15, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (CACC), the organization responsible for finding a location for a new airport in western Washington, said they have not found a site without problems so far.

Chief among the issues are conflicts with military airspace.

Sea-Tac named best airport in North America by Skytrax

CACC chairman Warren Hendrickson told KIRO Newsradio if no good spot can be found, the state needs to prepare for the fallout.

“Economic impact. Jobs. Travel restrictions. Airfare pricing. Limited shipping capabilities. Are we willing to accept those consequences?” said Hendrickson.

State models and forecasts showed potentially millions of passengers might not be accommodated at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport due to a lack of capacity by 2050.

The CACC, formed in 2019, began the airport location search with 19 sites and narrowed the list down to three in 2022: Pierce County Central, Pierce County East, and Thurston County near Olympia.

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

But the pushback against a new airport in Pierce County has been consistent among its residents, as a group called the Coalition Against Graham and Eatonville-Roy Airports was created last year. Last October, more than 200 residents gathered to protest against the construction of a new airport within the county.

They gathered again to protest the potential decision in January.

Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier even signed a letter telling the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) that the proposed areas couldn’t support this kind of project.

“We don’t have any major infrastructure out there,” he wrote in the letter. “We have some two-lane state highways. We don’t have any transit. So, it would require major freeways to go out there, major investment in transit to go out there.”

Commission members claimed expanding operations at Paine Field is still an option but likely won’t meet all the coming needs.

The commission also remains open to an airport in Yakima but said it’s highly unlikely anywhere in eastern Washington could effectively meet the flight needs of the western half of the state.

Diane Duthweiler contributed to this report

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Commission preparing for fallout if new WA airport location isn’t found