Fierce opposition to ‘mega airports’ continues to grow in mostly rural counties

OLYMPIA — There’s fierce opposition to the state’s plan to build or expand airports in at least four communities along the Interstate 5 corridor.

There are “Stop the airport” groups in King, Pierce and Thurston counties.

That’s where the state is considering expanding airports or putting in a brand-new airport to ease pressure off the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac.

One group, Stop Olympia Airport Growth, is meeting in Olympia on Tuesday night to oppose expansion of the capital city’s regional airport. They are meeting to discuss issues regarding noise pollution, habitat destruction and health impacts they say an expanded airport will bring — and they are far from alone.

When composer and singer Dawn Sonntag moved to the rustic Sunwood Lakes neighborhood in Thurston County three years ago, she thought she had found the perfect place for her work and her family.

“We instantly knew that this was where we wanted to live,” said Sonntag.

But last summer, the state’s Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission, or CACC, released three potential sites for a second international airport in Western Washington.

It includes Sonntag’s neighborhood of about 400 homes and two lakes.

“According to the map that is on the CACC website, we are almost in the center of the circle,” she said.

Hers isn’t the only neighborhood under consideration for a new, full-scale airport.

CACC posted a map showing that distinction belongs to two sites in Pierce County: one near Graham and the other near Eatonville. There is fierce opposition to each of them.

One King County site near Enumclaw has been dropped from consideration, according to CACC.

A state Department of Transportation aviation official told KIRO 7 the need is great for a large, international airport in addition to Seattle-Tacoma.

“Heavy congestion at the airport, getting to the airport,” said Robert Hodgman. “Prices will go sky high, the availability of seats will drop. I mean basically, that means 27 million people who won’t be able to get on a flight.”

Sonntag says that is not reason enough to change the lives of so many who already live here.

“We stand in complete solidarity, especially with Pierce County,” she said. “Those are beautiful rural areas that should not be destroyed by a mega-airport.”

The commission is also considering adding capacity to Paine Field, according to its Airport Master Plan, with the potential for additional capacity.

Sonntag says they have been told the commission will hold a public hearing on all of this in February. They are taking comments now.

A decision could be made in June, so stay tuned.