August 6, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
Oregon’s Portland-Hillsboro Airport can move forward and build a new runway that has been in the pipeline since 2009 after the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals July 31 ruled against an emergency injunction to stop construction.
In 2009, the Port of Portland, which manages Hillsboro, proposed building a parallel runway at the airport. The proposed runway was identified in the 2005 Hillsboro Airport Master Plan and Compatibility Study Update as a way to reduce congestion and delay, and improve efficiency.
The FAA reviewed the project and issued a finding of no significant impact on Jan. 8, 2010. But community members and groups, including Oregon Aviation Watch, challenged the runway’s construction. Oregon Aviation Watch filed its emergency injunction for relief on July 22.
Oregon Aviation Watch claimed that the public, which is paying for the runway, should be allowed to have a judicial review on the new runway before it was built. The watchdog group said that even without the new runway, members of the community are subject to multiple negative effects generated by this facility including, but not limited to, noise, lead exposure, pollution, property devaluation, safety risks, and security concerns.
AOPA was made aware of the issue at Hillsboro by AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Bob Flansburg, while Mary Rosenblum of the Oregon Pilots Association led the effort to get the runway built.
The port noted that Hillsboro is Oregon’s second-busiest airport, behind Portland International, and the busiest general airport in the state, with more than 200,000 operations a year. The port said the new parallel runway will increase efficiency by allowing simultaneous operations on parallel runways, which will cut congestion on the airport’s main runway, increase training opportunities, and accommodate strong GA demand at the airport.
Now that the injunction has been denied, the port is planning to move ahead with construction of the new runway, said spokesman Steve Johnson. “We don’t have an exact start date, but we need to finish up a few final administrative items with the FAA,” he said.
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
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