In his My Take essay [“This site has my vote for building a new airport,” Nov. 3, Opinion]suggests Joseph Tipler “convert” McChord Airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to civilian use to alleviate overcrowding at Seattle-Tacoma Worldwide Airport.
He concludes his essay by noting that skeptics would hurl hundreds of criticisms at this concept. I solely needed to throw one.
It will not work.
The central drawback is that McChord just isn’t a stand-alone airfield. Tipler suggests we might depart the Military facet of JBLM as it’s, and suggests transferring the C-17 transport plane on the coronary heart of the McChord airlift mission to, maybe, Travis Air Power Base in California. We will then invite Alaska, Delta, United, American and all the opposite airways at Sea-Tac to deliver extra flights and planes to the South Sound, construct new terminals for passengers and proceed on our merry approach after fixing the issue.
Appears easy? It isn’t.
The time period “Joint Base Lewis-McChord” is not only a reputation. It describes the mission.
There are almost 40,000 troopers and airmen stationed on the Military and Air Power base. They’re a standard base as a result of they work collectively to guard the nation right here and all through the Pacific Rim. When troopers from there frequently deploy to Korea or Japan or elsewhere by the Indo Pacific theater, or to sizzling spots around the globe, to NATO allies in Europe or to the Center East, they’re taken there and frequently provided and provided by C. – 17s flying out and in of McChord.
McChord cannot magically be became a civilian airport as a result of the airspace could be in full battle with all of the plane that the Military flies 24/7 on coaching missions and actual deployments of standard troops and Particular Forces troopers out of Grey Military Airfield at JBLM Lewis Major, virtually subsequent to the airport at McChord. As a result of the mixed base is collectively managed, this airspace may be managed by the navy and accommodate each transportation capabilities and Military coaching capabilities. There isn’t any method to safely and effectively handle civil air site visitors and navy site visitors on adjoining fields that share the identical airspace.
So if McChord had been to be deserted by the navy, it must take the Military at JBLM with it.
That will imply relocating greater than 100,000 troopers, airmen, relations and civilian contractors.
It could take away the second-largest employer in Washington state (57,000 jobs), remove the $13 billion annual financial influence fueling the South Sound, and ship all of it elsewhere. And that someplace needed to make room for the 100,000 service members and contractors and their dependents.
On high of all that, this proposal must get congressional approval and undergo the Base Realignment and Cloture course of. Since roughly the top of the Chilly Conflict, Congress has licensed the closure of 350 installations in 5 rounds of realignment and closure. JBLM survived all of them.
Tipler asks: Would not it’s simpler and cheaper to take over McChord than to construct a brand new airport someplace within the Puget Sound area?
The plain reply is not any. Now what?
The primary fee chartered by the Legislature to deal with the necessity for a brand new supplemental airport failed for a lot of causes. A minimum of two of the tentative websites it proposed conflicted with Nationwide Protection air site visitors out of JBLM. These websites had been non-starters.
A brand new fee have to be chartered and should respect and perceive present air site visitors wants (together with Sea-Tac, Paine Area, Boeing Area, and McChord and Grey navy airfields). It wants doesn’t to have geographic/political exclusions just like the final fee did (it was forbidden to look wherever in King County, for instance).
However McChord and JBLM and pondering that taking it over for civil aviation is a simple and cheaper resolution just isn’t the way in which to go.