Use existing airports or build from scratch? This Puget Sound question is a math problem
The commission, tasked with making a feasible airport site recommendation to state lawmakers by June, has encountered local opposition and major logistical obstacles while weighing use of existing airports — similar to those stemming from its controversial consideration of greenfield options.
Still, some state lawmakers have said that airports already in the region needed more deliberation and were underutilized. House Republican Leader Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, told The News Tribune last month that he would rather have airports chip in to bridge the projected passenger service shortfall than to see a new hub built that disturbs land and people.
In an appearance in September on TVW’s “Inside Olympia,” state Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, and Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, said that the commission had discussed using JBLM as a joint-use military-civilian airport. Dent said the option “could really work” but acknowledged it would require convincing military and government officials.
The bill that set into motion the current process, which was sponsored by Keiser and unanimously approved in 2019, precluded siting a new airport “on or in the vicinity of a military installation that would be incompatible with the installation’s ability to carry out its mission requirements.” Hendrickson told The News Tribune that the commission has to get JBLM, the Department of Defense and the state’s congressional delegation involved in the process to determine what role the base can play.