The Washington Department of Transportation has begun a study on how to accommodate the projected 105% growth in air travel in the region by 2040. The Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission is spearheading this research.
They are limiting their search to existing airports in Western Washington and in their July 2020 study narrowed down the list to three: Paine Field, Arlington Municipal, and Bremerton National.
Paine Field, located adjacent to Boeing’s wide-body factory, is already a commercial airport, but with limited service under an agreement with Snohomish County.
Rather than picking one of the other two, the study suggested that growing two airports to half the capacity of SeaTac is a better solution that one new airport the size of SeaTac. Thus the likely path forward is expanding both Arlington and Bremerton into commercial airports starting within the 2020s with each growing to be half the scale of SeaTac by the end of the 2030s.
Arlington Municipal is an hour’s drive north of Seattle. Sound Transit’s Sounder commuter train already serves Everett and Light Rail is planned to follow by 2036. Neither of those will shrink the time to reach the airport.
Bremerton National is currently just over an hour’s drive from Seattle, but that includes a long drive around Tacoma, across the Narrows Bridge and back up north through Pierce and Kitsap Counties. As the crows flies, Bremerton National is only 21 miles from downtown Seattle.
Take the Kitsap Streetcar plan, continue the line down SR3, and Bremerton International would be reachable by ferry and street car. Or better yet, take the ST3.5 plan, continue the light rail to SR3, and Bremerton International could be just as close to downtown Seattle as SeaTac is today, by train.
Closer in total travel time if the Bremerton International light rail station is in the to-be-built terminal building instead of on the far side of the parking garage.
Of all the options by the CACC for building a SeaTac-sized airport, only Bremerton National has the space for expansion and the space around the airport such that an airport of that scale would not have thousands of immediate residential neighbors. Above left is the satellite view of Bremerton National as of February 2023. Above right is the satellite view of Seatac Airport superimposed, showing the scale of the project and the vast amount of forest buffer that would continue to exist after expansion. The map also shows no residential neighborhood near either end of the runways and thus minimal noise impacts to airport neighbors.