Location in Thurston County eyed for Washington airport

A southern Thurston County location is being considered for construction of another large airport in Washington state to meet the increasing need for aviation capacity statewide.

The Washington state Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission conducted a straw poll with its 25 members that resulted in more than half voting for development of existing airports and construction of a new airport, similar in size to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, The Daily Chronicle reported.

The international airport is about 4 square miles (10 square kilometers) and is the primary commercial airport serving the Seattle area.

Of the 25 members, 14 showed support for the plan, seven voted only to expand existing airports and four did not vote, according to the survey.

Thurston County Commissioner Tye Menser said projections show that the state will need twice the capacity for air travel by 2050. A location north of Littlerock is being considered, he said.

The commission was created by the state Legislature and gathered in April to survey its members on how they want to address short-term and long-term needs to meet Washington state’s critical aviation system capacity needs by 2022.

“They want to find six of those where the community is behind it,” Menser said. “Then, they’ll go through a more careful vetting process and they’re going to first, (whittle) it down to two by, I think, the end of the year and ultimately they’re going to recommend one to the state Legislature.”

Some commissioners argued that developing one large airport would alleviate congestion and minimize pollution associated with extended ground travel to existing airports. Other commissioners argued it could take about 20 years to develop an airport of that size, and instead recommended developing existing airports such as Paine Field and Boeing Field.