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Renton Airport changes could be delayed

Differences among public officials and intense public debate surrounding the expansion of Renton Airport has caused the airport’s committee to slow down the process of approving a development plan.

According to Elliot Newman, the city of Mercer Island’s representative on the Renton Airport Advisort Committee (RAAC), the board decided on Tuesday, Feb. 13, that it should delay sending the project forward.

Newman said Renton City Council member Marcie Palmer suggested the delay because of confusion among other Renton councilmembers and the lack of knowledge within its transportation committee, which she chairs.

Palmer also told the RAAC that the transportation committee wants the airport to be self-supporting and needs to review the financial implications of each expansion option.

According to Newman, the delay will be for some time.

“They changed the process to allow more input,” Newman said, “and it sounds like it will take the rest of the year at least to reach a decision.”

In addition to stalling the plan, the RAAC will consider asking the FAA to approve an interim approach to negate the noise pollution the Island will receive from an increase in jet use.

Howard Wolvington, a former RACC member and current flight instructor, presented an approach that would require aircraft to begin their descent 400 feet higher above the North end of the Island.

This approach is the same method that will be used by flights landing on SeaTac’s new third runway.

“This idea is something that is better for now, though it is not as good as it could be,“ Newman said.

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