Part 2 of this e-letter is to provide a quick recap of the WSDOT airport presentation to the Council November 14, 2022 Committee Meeting (pierce.wa.us).
Mr. Hendrickson began his presentation by sharing the origins of the project and his involvement as a non-voting member of the CACC. He then proceeded to discuss how the airport site selection project has proceeded with the aid of a power point, available beginning on electronic page 20 of the meeting packet.
It is important to understand that the Commercial Aviation Coordination Committee (CACC) was tasked with a project outlined by the state legislature in SSB 5370 (2019). The CACC did what it was asked to do; however, I believe a case could be easily made that they were not presented with information needed to make an informed decision. That is understandable considering what was going on in the world during their deliberations. A summary of the CACC can be found here, which is where I found my concern for who has authority for siting an airport: The state cannot direct the expansion of an existing airport or construction of a new one; that authority resides with local governments. However, the state can support such an action, and provide technical assistance, along with the Federal Aviation Administration who has the authority to prescribe the development of an airport and the federal funding source to support it.
I don’t think I really got a direct answer to my question about clarifying that statement. I’ve been of the impression that the county holds the keys to land use. I read that statement above to mean that construction of a new airport resides with local governments. If that’s the case, then Pierce County should immediately be removed from consideration. I do wish to thank Mr. Hendrickson for his informative presentation. His time spent with us is much appreciated.
At the end of the day, I am impressed at how thousands of citizens have been activated to protect their properties. I’ll continue to research the Trans Alta property I mentioned as a solution. It has almost 10,000 available acres to look at and had a coal mine. It comes with needed infrastructure. I don’t know how many jobs were lost when it was shut down several years ago.
It’s close to I-5 and only 44 miles as the crow flies from Sea Tac International. According to WSDOT’s website and the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Regional Aviation Baseline Study Final Report May 2021, there are plans being considered for high speed rail running along I-5 from Canada to Oregon. A constituent told me that in one of the CACC meetings, it was discussed that growth, a deciding factor, will occur the most along I-5. The Pierce County sites aren’t even close to I-5, yet the chicklet chart indicated that more people will be served from our backyards.
Looking at a map, the Port of Tacoma, a municipality with sponsorship authority, may still have property in Maytown, which is just east of I-5 and south of Tumwater. That’s looking like a pretty good option, too. In hindsight, the consultants, who never consulted with any 3rd Council District Representatives, should back up and expand their search. I’m not sure why mileage from Sea Tac was a factor and not drive time.
We shall continue to persevere, but I do want to plant a seed about the term “sustainable”. It’s not used today in the way we were taught or defined in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary and it is used to influence and create policies that will consume your financial and physical properties. I’ll take a dive into that soon. And as a reminder, prepare for fuel to increase an expected $.46/gal in January.
Grateful for you!