Airport expansion plan leads to noise

By Mitchell Roland - Staff Reporter

Neighbors around Seattle-Ta- coma International Airport are concerned about expansion plans and potential extra noise that will come from them.

At a recent open house event at Highline, citizens had an opportunity to voice their displeasure with the plan.

As more and more people move to the Puget Sound area, SeaTac airport is going to get busier and busier. To alleviate some of the problem, the Port of Seattle is in the process of building projects to expand the airports capacity.

The Port of Seattle, which runs the airport, projects that by the year 2027 nearly 300,000 more people will move into the Seattle Metropolitan area, and 56 million people will use SeaTac Airport annually.

To alleviate some of the problem, the Port of Seattle is proposing a number of projects to try to make the airport streamlined.

This proposal includes things that are already under construction such as the new international arrival and departures terminal, but also projects that have yet to be started such as an off-airport cargo handling facility. Thirty projects in total are apart of the Ports near-term plan, and all of them will either be completed or started by the year 2027.

According to the website that the Port of Seattle set up for the proposal, these projects are in- tended to "improve operational efficiency, accommodate future growth, and to provide more capacity for fuel, including sustainable aviation fuel."

But not everyone is happy about the proposal.

Concerns over traffic, noise, and impact on the environment were topics of discussion during the open house event. Members of the community were able to voice concerns to employees of the Port.

Mary Paynter, a member of the Saltwater Church and a self-described "climate activist," voiced concerns over whether the meetings were beneficial, or were just for show.

"I learned that the Port is determined to move ahead with its expansion, regardless of the effect of CO2 emissions on the fate of the planet," she said.

Paynter said that the Port should also look at alternative options and not continue to in- crease SeaTac's capabilities.

"Let's revisit the feasibility of all options other than unlimited increases in air travel," Paynter said.

The idea of building a sec- ond regional airport instead of a SeaTac expansion is one the ideas that Paynter said should be considered. While she said the Port is not the one to pro- pose this, it is something that the Legislature needs to look at.

"There needs to be a plan to study again all possibilities for developing a second regional airport. Such alternatives were looked at back in the '80s and '90s but need to be re-examined," she said.

One of the biggest concerns

was the potential harm to human health. Paynter said that she is worried about fine particulate pollution penetrating lungs and causing shorter life expectancies.

"Some estimates summarize these effects and risks as resulting in five years less life expectancy," she said.

The open house was at times contentious. On pathways leading up to the Student Union, community members posted signs that said, "Demand Clear air, quality of life" and "Demand independent studies, the truth."

Members from Fight the Flight, a group against SeaTac expansion, were there handing out sample questions such as "Are you studying the unique impact of aircraft noise on elderly citizens and children?"

The scoping process is just the first step before there are shovels in the ground and the project can begin. After this step, the project will go through an environmental analysis, a development of a potential mitigation draft, a public comment period, and a final environmental review.

Comments on the scoping process are due by next Fri- day, Sept. 28 and can either be emailed to SAMP@portseattle. com or mailed to Steve Rybolt at P.O. Box 68727 Seattle, WA 98168. Comments sent by mail must be postmarked by Sept. 28.

Port of Seattle photo

Port of Seattle plans to continue to expand Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in anticipation of continued air traffic growth.

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