Construction of $1.1-billion runway (Don Wilson/Port of Seattle)

A planned third runway at Seattle Tacoma International Airport cleared a hurdle when local opponents agreed to drop their challenge to the $1.1-billion project. The Airport Communities Coalition, which includes several area municipalities, said Aug. 17 they would withdraw an appeal they filed to the Washington state Pollution Control Hearings Board.

Paige Miller, president of the Port of Seattle Commission, said, "The airport and the surrounding communities are committed to putting the litigation behind us, and working collaboratively for the benefit of the citizens of the area."

Officials at the port, which operates the Sea-Tac airport, said the runway could be completed in late 2008.


Coalition Chairman Bob Sheckler, mayor of Des Moines, Wash., said that with its filing with the state pollution control hearings board his group was "concerned that some of the fill that may have been coming from a particular site may have contamination in it." But he says that after further study, "we were unable to find what we...refer to as a smoking gun. So we withdrew the appeal."

The coalition's action "opens the door to a much greater dialogue" with port officials, Sheckler says. He says he's not disappointed, adding, "In our mind and in the mind of the port we have reached the point where it's more work together than in a litigious state."

Other coalition members are the cities of Burien, Federal Way, Tukwila and Normandy Park, as well as the Highline School District.

In May, the state Supreme Court ruled that "there is reasonable assurance that the runway project will not violate state water quality standards."