Parallel Runway Project
In 2009, the Port of Portland proposed to construct a parallel runway at Hillsboro Airport (HIO). The runway was identified in the 2005 Hillsboro Airport Master Plan and Compatibility Study Update as a way to reduce congestion and delay, and improve air traffic efficiency at HIO. An Environmental Assessment looked at several alternatives to the runway proposal. In addition, the EA thoroughly analyzed potential environmental impacts including air emissions, noise, traffic, and effects on wetlands and wildlife. The environmental review process also included a 43-day public comment period and numerous public meetings.
The FAA completed a review of the HIO Parallel Runway 12L/30R EA and issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on January 8, 2010.
Members of the community challenged the FAA’s decision and in August 2011, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit remanded the matter back to the FAA for further consideration. Specifically, the court remanded the case to the FAA with instructions to consider the environmental impact of increased demand resulting from the new runway, if any.
The Port, under the direction of the FAA, gathered information in response to the court’s remand order, and determined the optimal approach for analyzing potential increased demand at HIO. With this information, a Draft Supplemental EA was developed. The Draft Supplemental EA was available for review and public comment for a 35-day public comment period from March 15, 2013 through April 19, 2013. Responses to all public comments received during the public comment period were prepared and included in the Supplemental EA.
The FAA reviewed the new environmental analysis and again issued a Finding of No Significant Impact on February 21, 2014 along with the Final Supplemental EA for the HIO Parallel Runway Project. A 10-day informational review period was held from March 5 to March 15, 2014; during this time documents were made available to the public viewing and upon request.
Members of the community opposed to the runway proposal again mounted a challenge to the FAA’s action. In July, 2014, the Ninth Circuit refused to issue an injunction, and construction moved forward. The court has not yet issued a decision on the merits.
The runway project is made possible by federal and state grants. The Port has received $9.65 million from the Federal Aviation Administration and $4.0 million from Connect Oregon III, a state program to help fund non-road transportation projects. The total approved project budget is currently $16.7 million, which includes costs for the Environmental Assessment and wetland mitigation.
The parallel runway opened on April 30, 2015 and is now in use. Information about permanent changes to flight paths as a result of the new runway can be found in the related links section below.