Des Moines seeks potential new airport study & possible state ferry connection

By Jack Mayne

The City of Des Moines has joined SeaTac city officials in wanting consideration of a second international airport, and says a potential connection of the state ferry system could be another way to accommodate the huge growth proposed by the Port of Seattle.

City Manager Michael Matthias told the Council he wants the city to rejoin the Puget Sound Regional Council to better push for airport noise, pollution and traffic considerations during the Thursday (Feb. 15) City Council session.

The Council unanimously approved the move.

Citizens critical of growth
At the outset of the Council session, a number of people repeated yet again that the city needs to get more involved in fighting the plans of the Port of Seattle to increase capacity to 66 million passengers a year from the just under 47 million in and out of the airport in 2017. The airport is the 28th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic, and the Port has said that by 2034, airport traffic is projected to reach a staggering 66 million passengers and 750,000 metric tons of cargo annually.

Several citizens said the city has not fully engaged with the Port over the effects of such growth – “you have failed” in the words of one speaker. Another citizen said nothing will happen “if you don’t ask for it.”

Sheila Brush, a member of Quiet Skies Puget Sound in Des Moines, said “micro meetings” in neighborhoods of the city provide “an awareness of how bad is it and how bad is it going to be.”

“We are look at the same blueprint as Dallas-Fort Worth … it rests on 17,000 acres, the Port (of Seattle) rests on 2,500 acres,” said Brush. “They are going to devastate our communities, they are going to devastate the whole belt and region, adding “we are losing time” and urged the Councilmembers to become experts on the growth plans.

‘Negative impacts’
City Manager Matthias said that one of the ways the city can better participate in discussions about a future new airport would be to rejoin the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) which the city quit a few years ago. He sought a Council resolution rejoining the Council as a “financially contributing member.”

The Council approved the $9,600 annual cost 5 – 0 with two councilmembers excused to be absent.

That countywide group of officials represents all levels of government leaders.

“They are going to be involved in coordinating a process of siting a second airport – beginning that discussion which is a long-term solution, but it is a solution,” Matthias said.

The city has addressed a letter to the PSRC that Des Moines’ primary concern “has to do with the asymmetrical relationship between the public benefit of economic activity coming from airport operations (specifically Sea-Tac International Airport) and the disproportionate negative impacts experienced by our city in proximity to this major airport.”

The letter signed by Mayor Matt Pina also said the city understands the statewide needs but “nonetheless Sea-Tac is the largest component in the statewide aviation system.”

Des Moines also told the regional group that sustainability of the airport must consider air and water quality which “must be critical considerations in the decision to site new airports.”

“Without the ability to implement sustainable measures, future Sea-Tac Airport growth in both operations and capacity, should be constrained,” the city said.

A new ferry passenger terminal should be considered for Des Moines.

“The city is actively working on potential passenger ferry service to Seattle and Tacoma,” the city letter to the PRSC said. “The city’s proximity to light rail and a fast-growing employment base serve to make passenger ferry service in Des Moines a viable alternative mode of transportation.”


3 Responses to “Des Moines seeks potential new airport study & possible state ferry connection”
  1. susan white says:

    This is not a new idea and had some serious traction about ten years ago. I’m very happy to see the idea resurface!

  2. Sheila Brush says:

    Please sign the attached petition for a update to the 1997 Airport Impact Study. We need to know now, before the growth, how the current operations are affecting our local communities.

  3. jm says:

    I’m very excited about the possibility of a ferry connection! Transportation to Seattle is becoming more and more difficult, so more options can only be a positive.

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