Construction of third Seattle runway ahead of schedule

Washington DC
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Seattle-Tacoma International airport’s third runway is on track for its November 2008 debut.

Major paving of the runway was completed last week.

“We’re ahead of time, slightly under budget,” an airport spokesman says.

Construction of the runway began in 2001; and airline fees and passenger facility charges are footing the $1.2 billion bill.

Decreasing delays was the impetus for the third north-south runway that is west of existing runways, the spokesman says. The new runway will “enable us to avoid delays in low visibility situations,” he says. “Current [runway] configurations are not far enough apart to allow low-visibility, near simultaneous landings.”

The airport experiences poor weather conditions 40% of time, with fog from the nearby Puget Sound contributing to low visibility. Operations per hour at the airport have fallen from the mid-30s to the low 20s, says the spokesman, who adds the third runway will allow for simultaneous landings and keep operations on schedule.