Tacoma Narrows Airport master plan to enter final stage

Government: Runway not in immediate plans, but area will be preserved for future

of the GatewayFebruary 5, 2014 

The Tacoma Narrows Airport master plan has one stage remaining in the planning process.

The fourth of five stages consisted of a series of two meetings to narrow down design alternatives. An afternoon meeting at Cottesmore of Life Care in Gig Harbor involved stakeholders and Pierce County staff members. An evening meeting at Goodman Middle School brought in public comment.

The final meeting on the master plan alternatives, before the Planning Advisory Committee recommends a plan to Pierce County, will be held in June. The master plan update will set the tone for the airport for the next 20 years.

One sticking point is a runway extension. There aren’t plans for one, but there is the protection of an area that could be extended, should the airport see increased air traffic years down the road.

“We are not recommending a runway extension be done,” said Deb Wallace of Pierce County Public Works, the administrator for the county’s ferries and airports. “We are recommending to protect the area.”

Wallace said to think about the master plan alternatives as pick-and-choose menu items. The plan looks ahead 10 to 20 years, she said. That’s why the runway extension is being discussed.

In the event that the airport has more jet traffic 20 years from now, the area needs to be protected for future development. But right now, an extension doesn’t make sense, Wallace said.

“It is not justified,” she said. “The traffic is just not there.”

Pierce County purchased the airport from the City of Tacoma in 2008. This is the first master plan update process since the purchase.

The final master plan meeting is tentatively scheduled for June 11. Once a preferred alternative is selected by the planning committee, it will go into the Airport Layout Plan. That plan will be reviewed by the Pierce County Council and await FAA approval.

Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at karen.miller@gateline.com. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.

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