Businesses, wetlands considered in runway project

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Should a major runway replacement project go forward at Jefferson County International Airport, the impact of runway closures to businesses should be taken into consideration, said one local pilot.

Gary Lanthrum, president of the Jefferson County Pilots Association, said keeping the runway open as much as possible is important to businesses such as Tailspin Tommy’s maintenance shop, Spruce Goose Cafe and the Port Townsend Aero Museum – all of which operate at the airport.

Lanthrum said the airport was not just for pilots and their “toys,” but serves an important economic role in the county. The runway is crucial for health-care-related flights and would be vital were a major earthquake to occur, he said.

Shannon Kinsella, a director with the engineering firm Reid Middleton, said runway construction might be conducted in phases in order to minimize impact to airport operations during the construction period. Construction crews would try to keep the runway open as much as possible, she said, but added there would be times when the runway was completely shut down.

In addition to business concerns, impacts to the environment – specifically three wetland areas on the airport property – were also weighed, Kinsella said.

The project is designed to eliminate or minimize any impact to those wetlands, according to port documents.

Kinsella said certain endangered or threatened species – such as the marbled murrelet or streaked horned lark – were not found to be living in those areas.

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