Public Comment on SB5370: It’s about real competition

Public comment from House Transportation Committee, reviewing Karen Kaiser’s Senate Bill SSB5370. We’re now in the phase where the House Committee reviews the Senate vaersion and vice versa to (hopefully) come to agreed upon final versions which can be voted on.

One possible speed bump. The Dept. Of Aviation rep. commented that his Dept. and the FAA are recommending “six to eight more months” in the time-line for site selection. Hmmmm…

Following up on Public Testimony I made on April 1 at the House Transportation Committee. For context, I live in Des Moines which is directly adjacent to Sea-Tac Airport.

As I said, the most important consideration is that the second airport be a strong competitor to Sea-Tac Airport. It does the State no good if the second airport does not provide robust service–especially in terms of cargo.

Contrary to what so many others have said, mere  capacity is not the best reason to build a second airport. The airport communities have screamed that the airport is “at capacity” for 50 years as a pretext for alleviating the noise and pollution and other negative impacts from Sea-Tac. However, the Port Of Seattle also has a 50 year track record of overcoming any and all technological obstacles and not only meeting but exceeding their growth targets. Do not believe those who say they cannot do so again.

The Port Of Seattle most certainly will find a way to meet future demand, primarily through advancements in computer technology and GPS, but also, ironically, through the State’s help. It was your generosity in funding the 509/167 Gateway Project which will provide Sea-Tac Airport the logistics pipeline it needs to increase cargo throughput and overcome the main objection of your most recent Cargo Study. And of course, they will continue to do use their ace in the hole: their bottomless ability to inflict millions of dollars of costs of noise and pollution on our people and environment with no penalties and without having to pay one cent for those costs.

The best reason to build a strong new regional airport is because whenever the Port Of Seattle builds it tends to do so in the most inefficient and costly way possible. Look at any of their major building projects; they are always way over budget. And the four major expansions which have been done over the past forty years instead of more sensibly placing traffic and growth at alternate airports not only wildly over budget but mired in environmental problems that have harmed our residents and cost taxpayers more millions.

The Third Runway alone was 300% over budget and the environmental costs of that project are still being felt today. But if one thinks that I’m referring to ancient history, just look at the new International Arrivals Facility which is also way over budget–and this is being built under the most favourable political and economic circumstances one could imagine.

A second airport that is not properly funded and reared to achieve its full potential will only encourage the Port to throw more money into wasteful spending in order to fill any potential market gap it may perceive. And that will also prevent the rest of the State from receiving the full economic and environmental benefits from the lowest possible transportation costs and highest possible tax revenues.

The Port Of Seattle’s relentless mantra is ‘growth’ for King County and that is their only concern. They must not be allowed to influence this process in order to weaken a second airport in order to strengthen their position.

Residents of the airport communities around Sea-Tac Airport deserve less environmental impacts from the incredibly excessive number of flights. We need a second airport, but it does us no good unless it is the kind of facility that also provides the best possible value for the rest of the State Of Washington. And we need the process of creating that airport to begin even now in the earliest planning stages of this bill. In one sentence: we need a second airport that provides real competition to Sea-Tac Airport if we are ever to obtain any meaningful relief.

—JC Harris
Des Moines

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *