Up To 56 Homes to Receive Sea-Tac Noise Protection

The Port of Seattle will spend $2.45 million to provide sound mitigation and insulation for up to 56 homes located within a noise impact boundary established around Sea-Tac Airport in 1985.

Since then, the port has spent more than $250 million to install insulation and replace the windows and doors of 9,224 homes whose owners applied for the noise-mitigation program, which ostensibly ended in 2003.

However, as many as 1,000 homes remain that are still eligible for port-funded mitigation, the port's Noise Remedy Program Manager Jazzi Richardson said at Tuesday's Port Commission meeting.

Richardson said that - depending on the severity of the homeowner's complaint and the reasons for missing the 2003 deadline - homeowners within the noise-impact boundary can still call the port to verify their eligibility and place themselves on a waiting list for service should funds become available.

"Our goal is to get these homes insulated, not to turn people away," said Diane Summerhays, the port's director of community development at Sea-Tac. "Many of these homes were eligible, but the old homeowners did not get the work done. When the new homeowners came in, they still have the noise issues that should be taken care of."

Summerhays said that originally, the Federal Aviation Administration provided about 70 percent of the money the port spent on the program. However, only five of the 56 homes for which the port commission unanimously voted Tuesday to provide mitigation are eligible for grants from the FAA, whose standards for inclusion are stricter than the port's.

The project will increase costs for the airlines using Sea-Tac by less than 1 cent per enplanement (each time a passenger gets on a plane), the standard used by airlines to determine their costs per passenger.

The port must be careful to manage the 2,500-acre Sea-Tac's cost per enplanement - listed at $11.87 for passenger airlines in the port's 2007 budget - as various West Coast airports compete to add flights and new cities to their areas of service. However, the success of Sea-Tac and the port's expansion projects there rests on support from Sea-Tac's surrounding communities, which have in the past embroiled the port in legal challenges.

In 2005, Southwest Airlines and others balked at the rising cost per enplanement at Sea-Tac - in the midst of a $4.1 billion expansion and renovation approved by the airlines - and threatened to open new facilities at Boeing Field. Those plans were foiled; Sea-Tac handled nearly 30 million passengers in 2006.

Summerhays said the port will redraw the boundaries for inclusion in the noise mitigation program once the $1.2 billion third runway opens, slated for late 2008 at the earliest.

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