Port of Seattle held three open houses last week in Seattle, Bellevue and SeaTac, in order to educate and receive public feedback on their plan concepts to expand the fastest growing airport in the country. And the process will continue throughout 2016 with additional Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP) open houses for SeaTac’s expansion around the Puget Sound region.
SeaTac Airport is the fastest growing among the top 20 U.S. airports, serving more than 42 million passengers in 2015. According to the Puget Sound Regional Council, last year brought the region’s strongest population growth that it had seen in a decade with an influx of 63,000 people and 76,000 jobs. SeaTac Airport currently accounts for 170,000 jobs and $16 billion of revenue to the region, says Elizabeth Leavitt, Port of Seattle’s Director of Aviation Planning and Environmental Services.
“This necessary expansion of the airport is an immediate reflection of the growth of the city.”
As Seattle and Bellevue continue their rapid growth, the entire Puget Sound region continues to thrive from the strong regional economy. As a result of the increased population, SeaTac Airport also saw an increase in passenger travel by 12.9 percent. Based on a continued population growth at the same rate, airport passenger activity is expected to go up from 42.3 to 66 million by 2034.
“This necessary expansion of the airport is an immediate reflection of the growth of the city,” said Perry Cooper, Port of Seattle public affairs manager. “We’re simply trying to manage what is coming.”
The SAMP is developing a long-term blueprint for the future development of the airport over the next five, 10 and 20 years, allowing room for flexibility when necessary. The $2 billion, five-year blueprint includes possible westward expansions to an already dense airfield and 34 additional terminals. There are currently four possible design options being considered.
The first option extends Concourse A, adding wide body international gates, and Concourse D, adding two piers to the north. It also adds aircraft hold positions to the north. The second option redevelops Concourse B, also adding wide body gates, and extends Concourse D, adding three piers to the north. It also adds aircraft hold positions to the north. Option three is identical to option two, except that it would add aircraft hold positions to both the north and south. The fourth option is identical to the third option, except that it also develops the South Aviation Support Area for aircraft maintenance and cargo growth.
After continuing analysis and plan development into third quarter of this year, Port of Seattle anticipates beginning the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Layout Plan review process this fall. Leavitt says at that point it will be up to the Port Commission to decide the next steps and the timing of construction. Leavitt also says it will take approximately five years for construction on the chosen design to commence.
Using the example of the 9,426-foot runway reconstruction completed in December 2015, Cooper said the airport does not expect that the expansion will impact flight schedules, passenger traffic or any other airport operations.