Over the weekend, commercial airline service at Paine Field in Everett moved one step closer as the project’s latest Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment (EA) was released. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new assessment evaluates potential environmental impacts associated with allowing United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines to begin commercial flight operations out of Paine Field.
Commercial flights were originally expected to begin in the fall of 2018 after the FAA assessed and approved 12 daily departures from Paine Field in a 2012 EA. However, when a new proposal from Alaska, Southwest, and United Airlines proposed increasing the daily departures to 24, the FAA requested an additional environmental study.
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The airlines’ new proposal doesn’t require any additional land use or building construction, but would require approximately 424 new public parking spaces (which would be located on already paved areas). The assessed environmental impacts in the report are therefore primarily related to the additional flights that would depart from Paine Field.
According to the study, the new proposal will have minor environmental impacts related to emissions, noise, and traffic use, but overall it will “not result in significant cumulative impacts.”
The additional flights will add an estimated 20,610 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2019. But with no significant thresholds established for aviation greenhouse gas emissions, the report declares that there will be little, if any, increase in climate impacts from the additional CO2 emissions.
Other pollutant emissions will increase due to the additional departing flights, but again the EA says that the difference won’t be significant for air quality in the Puget Sound region.
The additional flights will also add an additional 1,229 more daily vehicle trips in the area compared to the 2012 analysis, including 66 more trips during peak-hours.
According to Paine Field’s newly updated FAQ page on its website, the airport’s terminal building is expected to be completed this month and they anticipate beginning commercial flights in early 2019 once the FAA’s assessment is complete.
The environmental assessment is available for public comment from September 29, 2018 to November 2, 2018 with a public hearing scheduled for October 29, 2018.