Pierce County Public Works and Utilities staff leading the development of Tacoma Narrows Airport’s master plan update will not recommend an expansion of the runway protection zone at the airport.
The expansion of the zone, which would be required if the runway is extended in the future, was previously included in the preferred alternative for the master plan update. Feedback from the public expressing concern over the expansion of the zone prompted the county department’s recommendation that it be removed from the preferred alternative.
An expanded runway protection zone would have preserved additional airspace around Tacoma Narrows Airport from intrusions such as cell phone towers and tall buildings in the event a runway extension is ever justified in the future.
“We have been listening to feedback from our community throughout this process,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “Airport and Ferry Administrator Deb Wallace and her staff have done a great job to ensure this valuable asset is able to meet the needs of future generations.”
An extension of the runway’s length is not justified at this time based on current airport traffic demands, which fall short of the required 500 annual operations by business jet aircraft that require additional runway length. Many of these aircraft need an extra 1,000 feet of runway length to depart fully loaded. The runway is 5,002 feet long.
If an extension of the runway is considered in the future, a number of requirements would have to be addressed, including an amendment to the Gig Harbor Peninsula Community Plan, which currently states that the community does not support an extension.
The airport master plan update process began in January 2013, and included input from the public and representatives from the aviation community, businesses, local and state government, and more. Participants evaluated the current state of the airport as well as potential alternatives to determine how best to meet the community’s long-term development needs. Topics have included the airport’s inventory, aviation forecasts on growth expected in the next 20 years, facility requirements and development alternatives.
The preferred alternative will be presented to Executive McCarthy and the Pierce County Council this fall, and then sent to the Federal Aviation Administration by early 2015.
This will be the first master plan update since Pierce County purchased the airport from the City of Tacoma in 2008. The last master plan update was completed in 2003. A master plan update planning period is seven to 10 years, with an outlook to 20 years.
Information about the update can be found at www.piercecountywa.org/tacomanarrows.
About Tacoma Narrows Airport
Tacoma Narrows Airport is a regional airport that is used for small business jet travel and general aviation. The airport serves businesses, recreational flying, flight instruction, medical services, the media, the military, and law enforcement. There are approximately 48,000 operations at the airport each year.
Pierce County also owns Pierce County Airport-Thun Field in Puyallup.
Deb Wallace, Public Works and Utilities airport and ferry administrator
Anne Radford, Public Works and Utilities public information officer