Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Airlines at Boeing Field:

I'll admit freely that I was opposed to the idea of Southwest moving from Sea-Tac to Boeing Field from the beginning. We don't have the road infrastructure around Boeing Field, Sea-Tac has just undergone major improvement work, and Airport Link is dependent on two Port of Seattle plans (pdf) at Sea-Tac:
  • North Expressway Relocation Phase I - the full relocation of the northbound lanes and the partial realignment of the southbound lanes of the Northern Airport Expressway to provide a corridor for the construction of the LRT alignment. The full relocation of the southbound lanes of the Northern Airport Expressway and Air Cargo Road will occur in a later phase to support the planned terminal extension. This project also includes the partial vacation and relocation of South 170th Street.
  • South 160th Street Loop Ramp - the completion of a new multi-lane return-to-terminal ramp and the demolition of the existing return-to-terminal ramps. The existing return-to-terminal ramps need to be demolished to support the construction of the LRT station.
As things develop, my position has solidified. If Southwest Airlines is allowed to move from Sea-Tac to Boeing Field, it is likely that revenue to the Port of Seattle will drop such that these plans will have to be abandoned. We now know that if Southwest moves, Alaska/Horizon, American, and Northwest Airlines intend to move some or all of their operations as well. While this could provide Seattle residents with better air service, it would severely inhibit other residents of Puget Sound:
  • I-405 would no longer provide an alternative for drivers coming from north of Seattle. 405 connects to SR-518 directly and provides a means of bypassing Seattle entirely. This would increase traffic on I-5 through Seattle, an already seriously congested corridor.
  • Drivers coming from the south would have to come farther north, into Seattle, rather than using I-5's Orilla Road exit or Highway 99. This adds five miles to a trip - right into Seattle traffic.
  • Businesses will suffer. The Sea-Tac mall can't exactly be relocated to Boeing Field, the area around Boeing is primarily industrial. If commercial development takes hold there, property values will go up, driving industry away from the port.
With Southwest planning to start with 60 flights a day and ramp up to 85, and Alaska getting the number up to 130 (King County's stated maximum), that's a lot of noise and a lot of traffic. Fortunately, the Council plans to take public comments in their chambers at the King County Courthouse on the evening of October 12th.

I hope they shoot this down - losing the light rail connection to the airport and noisy takeoffs and landings over Seattle are not my cup of tea.


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