Photo by Jerry Gay
A plane on a line to land at Sea-Tac Airport flies near a home.

Update 2: Port contributions to schools for noise mitigation detailed

Comment period for airport noise study with smaller contours ends May 30

Due to a reporting error, the amount of money the Port of Seattle has pledged to Highline schools for noise mitigation was wrong in an article on the Port’s noise study that appears in the May 24 print issue.

The Port, operators of Sea-Tac Airport, has pledged $100 million for Highline schools.

That covers seven schools so far--Madrona Elementary, North Hill Elementary, Mount Rainier High, Cedarhurst Elementary, Sunnydale Elementary, Midway Elementary and Parkside Elementary.

Eight more schools are scheduled to get monies as levy upgrade projects are approved. For schools that close, that money goes to the new construction to increase capacity.

Of the dollars, $50 million comes from Federal Aviation Administration grants, while the remaining $50 million comes from the Port.

Also, the Port has provided $6 million to Highline Community College in Des Moines to assist in sound insulating of campus buildings. Twelve of the 22 buildings identified are complete.

The figure for Highline schools has been corrected in the online story below:

May 30 is the deadline for public comments on the Port of Seattle’s airport noise study.

Port officials, operators of Sea-Tac Airport, have spent the past four years assembling the study. The noise and land-use compatibility study update is designed to evaluate existing noise levels, predict noise for the next five years, evaluate potential noise mitigation ideas and recommend programs to minimize impacts.

After approval by the Port commission, expected in mid-July, the study will be sent to the Federal Aviation Administration. After the FAA considers it, the agency can give the Port the OK to apply for grants for noise abatement programs. FAA action is expected around March of next year.

The Port completed a previous noise study before the third runway was completed. That study set the noise contours by estimating the projected noise impacts of the third runway.

Ironically, now that the third runway is in operation, the noise contours proposed in the new study are narrower than the ones currently in place.

That is because jets have become quieter, Port spokesman Perry Cooper said.

Homes in the area between the current contours and the proposed contours are no longer eligible for noise mitigation.

While working on the study, the Port has completed some noise mitigation in homes that had been bypassed within the new parameters.

Cooper said that since 1985, the Port has spent over $400 million on noise mitigation, including insulation of 9,300 single-family homes.

The Port has given the Highline School District $100 million for noise mitigation in schools impacted by airport noise.

One of the schools that received aid is Cedarhurst Elementary in northeast Burien.

The Port held its final open house and public hearing at Cedarhurst on May 15. Port staff presented displays and answered questions from the public. In the gym, a court reporter took formal comments on the study.

Among the draft recommendations is a pilot program to insulate up to 1,200 apartment units in the updated noise remedy boundary. Eligible condominium units would also be insulated.

A voluntary buyout program would be offered for existing individual mobile homes located on privately owned land. Cooper said the larger mobile home parks have already been bought out and removed.

Some residences in the south approach transition zone around Des Moines would also be eligible for a voluntary buy-out under the new recommendations. Cooper said residents who want to stay in their homes can remain.

The draft report also calls for evaluating the feasibility, possible locations, costs and impacts of building a ground run-up enclosure to reduce noise during aircraft engine testing on the airfield.

The enclosure, commonly known as a “hush house” costs $6-8 million, according to Cooper.

The Port commission and FAA must still approve the draft recommendations.

Copies of the draft are in local libraries. A CD copy can be obtained by calling 206-787-4944.

Formal comments can be emailed by May 30 to Comments can also be faxed to 513-530-2201.

Mailed comments can be addressed to Rob Adams, Landrum & Brown, 11279 Cornell Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45242.

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