Two rural expanses of land in Pierce County are among three so-called "greenfield" sites that remain under consideration for a new airport after a state Legislature-created group on Friday narrowed down options for where it will recommend establishing flight operations to accommodate growing passenger and cargo traffic in the region.
The Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission, which was tasked by state lawmakers in 2019 with identifying a potential home for a new airport to be constructed by 2040, voted to move forward with analyzing the viability of developing land on "Pierce County East" and "Pierce County Central," as well as a potential site in Thurston County.
The three sites were among a list of 10 greenfield locations — which means they are undeveloped — that were being considered for the undertaking. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is expected to be unable to support estimated passenger and cargo volume growth in the future.
On Friday, the three sites were chosen for further study to determine whether they would be appropriate fits for a two-runway airport, which would be roughly 3,100 acres, according to an August site selection study by state consultant Kimley-Horn. A primary 11,000-foot-long runway would be capable of serving domestic commercial passenger and cargo airplanes.
The coordinating commission also homed in on exploring adding capacity to Snohomish County Airport (Paine Field). The airport was one of six being considered for a potential project.
The decision by the coordinating commission Friday essentially reduces more than a dozen options for a possible new airport in the region to four, with the 15-member body of state, industry and community representatives expected to recommend two locations by next month.
A final determination is expected to be decided in June.
"Pierce County East" is the name given to a six-mile radius area south of Graham, inclusive of state Route 161. "Pierce County Central" refers to a six-mile radius of land located south of South Creek in an area inclusive of where state Routes 702 and 7 converge.
"Thurston County Central" is a six-mile radius area southeast of East Olympia, according to the consultant's site selection study.