Senate creates commission to review major airport location options

Creation or expansion of an airport in Washington to relieve the stress of a growing demand at SeaTac would be the focus of the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission created by legislation passed in the Senate, Monday.

SeaTac is the ninth busiest airport in the United States and nineteenth in air cargo volume in North America with traffic forecasted to continue growing, according to a legislative staff report. In 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funded the Puget Sound Regional Council, to look at aviation in the area and help with future planning.

The Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission would look at potential facility sites and create a short list of six sites by January 2020.

Senator Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, spoke in support of the bill, noting that Moses Lake has an under-utilized airport that could be a good fit. “We have the longest landing strip this side of the Mississippi,” Warnick said, in reference to Grant County International Airport.

The bill passed the Senate in a bipartisan 45-1 vote, with Senator Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood voting in opposition.

The broad language in the bill would allow for Paine Field Airport in Snohomish County to be considered for expansion, which is something Liias opposes. Paine Field is already undergoing expansions to passenger travel and Liias said he would not support any additional expansions at the moment.

Liias said he does support the idea of expansions to meet Washington’s needs at airfields, like the one in Moses Lake, that could handle the increased traffic.

The house’s companion bill, HB 1683, received bipartisan support in committee hearings. Representative Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, is the prime sponsor and has Sea-Tac International Airport in her district. Co-sponsor — and the only professional pilot in the Legislature — Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, package of bills aimed at improving aviation safety, funding, and innovation.

In the House Transportation Committee Hearing, Steve Edmiston, a member of the state department of commerce aviation impact study committee, testified in support of the bill.

“I call this a ‘what’s not to like’ bill because of the statewide economic impacts that this bill can create,” said Edmiston. Economic impacts are “no longer reserved for an isolated piece of geography,” he said. “That has been our model at Sea-Tac since 1947.”

The commission would be composed of a member of the Department of Commerce, a member from the Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division, members from the private sector, members from metropolitan planning organization and members from various ports, among others. There would be 13 voting positions and two nonvoting.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

More in News

Gov. Inslee signs Native American Voting Rights Act into law

Bill allows non-traditional addresses to be used for voter registration on tribal lands

School district bonds voting requirements to remain the same after Senate vote fails

School district bonds will still need 60 percent of the vote, after… Continue reading

Carbon fee back on the table for Washington state

Despite past voter rejection of similar proposals, Senate Transportation Committee chair Steve… Continue reading

Sequim School District seeks extension for Carlsborg sewer connection

A looming deadline to connect to the Carlsborg Sewer Project could mean… Continue reading

Schools’ central kitchen nearly ready, ribbon cutting set

Sequim School board directors got a first look on March 11 of… Continue reading

Olympic Game Farm seeks dismissal of some lawsuit claims

Animal Legal Defense Fund sued Sequim-area business in December

Police blotter — March 13, 2019

The weekly police blotter includes incidents that occurred in the City of… Continue reading

Two generations of Van de Weges in Olympia

It was an all-Sequim father-son combo in Olympia, as Jackson Van De… Continue reading

Most Read