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Prepare for third runway?


The Airport Futures process is honing in on its biggest hot-button issue: what, if anything, to do about the third runway?

The infamous third runway, if it were built, would send outbound planes skyward in a southeasterly direction, giving residents in east Portland more direct exposure to noise than they have ever encountered before. In the pre-9/11 days, it was viewed as an inevitability that would be needed as early as the next decade. But in the vastly different world of air travel we now inhabit, planners say such a facility is not needed until 2035 at the earliest, if at all.

The question the plan's Public Advisory Group is now being asked is this: should the city and the Port of Portland (which operates Portland International Airport) begin preparing for the third runway now, and if so, what sort of preparations would be appropriate?

The PAG was to vote on the issue at its July meeting. However, at previous sessions, several of its members said they felt the need to discuss the issue with their constituent groups first. A briefing was held last month, but the vote was put off until September.

The PAG previously agreed to keep the option open of installing a third runway in the future, explicitly without making any decision on whether it should, in fact, be built. Staff has since concluded that relatively little needs to be done to preserve this option. The principal actions they do call for are to extend the height limitation zone to some east Portland areas annexed relatively recently, including some residential areas. In these same areas, they propose to treat landscaping and plants in general as the port does, with an eye toward eliminating habitat for birds.
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