Submitted by Bob Warfield.
I am not professionally qualified to advise in the matter of building another international airport to serve the Puget Sound urban realm. But, from what I have read, I am of the opinion that we may be contemplating the “problem and solution” from an isolating perspective, suggesting that the proposed duplication and siting of such facilities at scale warrants a fundamental reconsideration – one informed by altitude and oversight, adaptations required of a warming world. With energy and resource allocations in transformational flux might we address new potentials and limitations affecting not only how we live, travel and communicate, but also how we steward space and nature vital to the environmental wellness that sustains us?
The question at hand is whether anything about Sea-Tac International Airport is so important to the future of Earthbound civilization or national prosperity as to justify duplication with all of its ancillary supporting arrangements, service city and throttling transportation infrastructure. At cost, the proposed six-mile “circle of doom” would mean scraping the life investments of thousands of Pierce County citizens whose family homes, farms, enterprise and cherished aspirations so carefully sought rural location to distance from the very industrial big-city calamity that now darkens their future. One must wonder whether Port of Seattle will contend with Port of Tacoma.
But what I am searching for, and perhaps we all should, is that intersection of conversion where “growth” consumes so much of our natural wealth that another airport becomes figuratively essential to import what we need but can no longer provide. Prime example is the vast and rich alluvial plain south of Renton that now lies beneath rolling concrete and asphalt, as if “anything for IKEA.” Our pursuits of industry challenge conservation of the natural abundance that brought or kept us here to begin with. As a generational species, adapting and claiming right, we are capable of wonder and creative work. But sometimes we lose touch with ourselves or forget that creative work originates in wonder. This Peace of Earth sustains us, imbues our day, our tomorrow, our living outlook from Cascade crest to Pacific shore with starshine embrace and the shared reverence its earliest native habitant.
Washington’s Puget Sound has ten “IATA” airports of commercial capacity. Three are military, five sandwiched by surroundings or otherwise confined. That leaves Sea-Tac and the surprising but remote potential of Bremerton’s (thank you Norm Dicks). Thus Sea-Tac bears the regional mission of proximate aviation gateway.
So, what happens if another Sea-Tac is not built? What other “IATA” hubs or international facilities are now in planning to double by 2050? And would not other means and ways adapt, transportation routing interests and priorities to price-adjust toward less consuming enterprise or realize efficiencies at scale superior to existing convention?
Before lurching forward to satisfy lofty schedules or solidify pre-cast conclusions, further convincing data is plainly due to address necessity. Isolating assumptions confined to doubling Sea-Tac alone, upon which all else appears predicated, are insufficient. Unless it can be shown that the Seattle-Tacoma region (to be defined) accounts at least ninety percent of origin or final destination as a rational basis for determination of projected need, there is no projected need. Where is that shown? There are obviously other established connecting airports and routing options that may efficiently absorb or comparably serve existing or future need.
Flying farther and faster has been an American fixation since Kitty Hawk. But like a snarling rush-hour stalled, whether moving people or stuff, systems concentration without moderation, balance and regulated flow leads to lives diminished by the necessities of its demands. That’s fine if your life’s purpose is a traffic jam. But if from time to time you yearn for just a little tranquility, sound of a silence or a brook, or the site of something wild. It would be nice to know that will remain possible – here. Conversely, taking life as a journey, the wonder of travel is lost when it consists of little more than serial airports and baggage claims.
So, when is more of everything enough? And one might also point out that, while Tahoma is presently silent on the matter, it is a volcano.