Members of the public are invited to join Pierce County in celebrating completion of the Tacoma Narrows Airport Runway Safety Area project, which includes the new Stone Drive NW tunnel.
An open house will be held Weds., Aug. 5, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the airport, located at 1208 26th Ave., Gig Harbor. Project engineers from Public Works and Utilities will be on hand to answer questions about the project and explain its safety benefits. Several aircraft will be on display: a jet, a twin engine aircraft, and an antique aircraft.
The Stone Drive NW tunnel opened to traffic in June.
The $15.5 million construction project involved building a lid over Stone Drive NW at the north end of the airport to provide an emergency landing area for aircraft. The lid had the effect of creating a 530-foot tunnel that increases safety for vehicles and pedestrians as they pass under the airfield.
The elevation of Stone Drive NW had to be lowered to accommodate the tunnel and allow drivers to see farther ahead.
The Federal Aviation Administration required creation of the runway safety area and provided 95 percent of the funds to build it. The remaining 5 percent was paid by the county, which might receive a Washington State Department of Transportation aviation grant to offset some of those costs.
Pierce County purchased the airport from the City of Tacoma in late 2008 and inherited the project already in progress. With its completion, the runway now complies with FAA safety standards.
There are approximately 156 aircraft based at the Tacoma Narrows general aviation airport, which has one 5,002-foot runway that experiences about 89,000 takeoffs and landings each year.
More information about the airport is available online here.