Third Runway Noise Problem Not Fading Away

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by Scott Schaefer

Since we first posted this story (on Monday, Nov. 24th) regarding area residents complaints about increased noise from Sea-Tac Airports newly-opened third runway, we’ve received numerous emails, comments and even phone calls about it.

We can safely say that the third runway noise problem is not fading away.

In fact, it only seems to be getting LOUDER, which means that we’ll be covering this story for as long as it’s a story.

We will be meeting with a representative of the Port of Seattle next week, so stay tuned for their viewpoint.

We’ll also be interviewing other residents and experts, which will include videotaping, photographing and doing our own decibel level checks as well, then continuing to post new updates as they come in.

And as always, if you have an opinion, complaint, anecdote, factoid or hot tip, please email us directly, call us during business hours at (206) 248-2565, or post a Comment below this story.

In the meantime, here are some letters we received from some of the people being affected first-hand:

We live in South Park and are definitely experiencing increased noise from planes which now pass much closer to our home since the 3rd runway opened. The noise is problematic now in terms of waking us up at times, and in making it difficult to talk on the phone or listen to the radio–and it’s not even windows-open season yet.

What are the implications of particulate and other emissions for those of us now experiencing low-altitude flights directly overhead?

Alan Puckett

I used to live off of 128th and des moines memorial blvd, right under the flight path.  If you were in the yard, you could hear the planes flying over.  If you were watching TV late at night with the volume low so everyone else in the house could sleep, you could hear the planes (and often times, not the TV).  But it was under the flight path.  So we got used to it.

Now, I live just south of Five Corners.  Planes were NEVER audible.  Yesterday we were watching TV at like, six o clock at night, and the planes were loud enough to drown out the sound of regular volume TV, not 2 am volume.  It is ridiculous.  I am not the home owner.  But the home owner is UPSET.  Like, pissed off, upset.

But, I remember a friend of mine saying that back in the day, the Port installed sound proof windows for everyone who lived near the airport (well, flight path, but whatever).  The house off 128th had them.  Are they gonna do that again now?  They need to.  I am sure home values dropped significantly because of the new noise.  That is not good news in an already failing economy.

So, in conclusion, I be like, F the new third runway.

dean p.


Thank you for bringing this subject to attention. I live on the 800 block of 143rd St SW and last week I started hearing a heavy amount of airplane noise. In the past it was quiet and I only occasionally heard a plane or two. Now it’s noisy all the time and I don’t like it one bit. The least the airport could have done is notify the community of the flight path changes ahead of time. This will hurt our growing city; in recent Seattle magazine articles Burien has been praised for being conveniently located near the airport but not affected by the noise of flight traffic as it was out of the flight path area. I suppose I will get used to the noise but I am afraid others will decide Burien is too noisy and choose other places to live and conduct business instead.

Thank you,
Jessica Dobson

I live between 128 and 136th on 10th Ave S- The noise is awful.  In fact planes were landing every 5 mins on that 3rd runway last night (Sun. Nov. 30th) until after 12 am. I have no soundproofing as live in a mobile and the Port deems that not worth doing the soundproofing.  ( I have attached the e-mail I received from them) as you can see they have no plans on addressing the problem until the end of 2009.  I had gotten use to the minor noise from runway 1 and 2, but now the planes are less then a mile above my place, and the 3rd runway is almost being used exclusively now, so there is no relief, cannot imagine what it will be like in the summer time.

My question is the approaches on the other 2 runways for the most part go over either property the port purchased and tore down houses or in businesses areas, so why did they not come to us and offer the same or at least tell us how it was going to be so we could make an informed decision in whether to remain living there or sell.  Now you can bet there isn’t going to be anyone wanting to by my piece of property.  Even the neighbors with all their sound proofing and in regular homes are complaining.

The port and/or FAA could care less.  They got what they wanted.

Kathy E Anderson

YES!!!  In early November we found a cute house in north Burien (near 128th and 12th)- we were slightly bothered by the nearby airport noise, but the reason we bought the house was because it was NOT under a flight path.  The house also has a “port package” and we were assured that we could not hear the planes inside the house.  We had heard about the third runway, but had assurances that it would not be over our home, and used rarely.

NOW we closed on the house and are set to move in- and went to the house to do some repairs and found that the airplanes are frequently and daily flying DIRECTLY over our home, and the noise is deafening both outside and INSIDE the home.  We are heartbroken, we can’t back out of the house now, and we anticipate losing money on the house since property values will surely go down due to this.

This situation is untenable, and something needs to be done about  this, fast.

Miriam L. Bearse

Courtesy Reader/Letter Writer Miriam Bearse comes this info:

Airplane noise isn’t just a nuisance!

What do we know about the effects of consistent airplane noise on health?

Airplane noise in a community can lead to:

  • Increased stress, including higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone)
  • Cardiovascular (heart) problems and hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Sleep disturbances
  • A higher rate of premature birth of babies
  • Cognitive impairment in children; including lower reading levels, impaired reading comprehension, and impaired recognition memory
  • Mental health disorders and negative psychosomatic effects
  • Higher levels of psychiatric hospital admissions due to severe mental health disorders
  • Asthma and related health problems due to increased levels of airborne pollutants

Partial list of reports and studies on these issues:

  • Davies, P. et al (2008) “Project 19: Health Effects of Aircraft Noise,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ongoing study:
  • BBC News “Aircraft Noise Affects Learning,” 6/2/05, based on a British and Spanish study of 2,500 children living near airports:”
  • Health Canada “Healthy Living: Aircraft Noise in the Vicinity of Airports,” 11/5/07, Health Canada Publications, Ottawa ON
  • Black et al “Aircraft noise exposure and resident’s stress and hypertension: A public health perspective for airport environmental management,” 11/07, Journal of Air Transport Management, volume 13, issue 5
  • Morrell, S. et al “A review of health effects of aircraft noise,” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 1997: 21(2): 221-36
  • Hiramatsu et al “Population-Based Questionnaire Survey on Health Effects of Aircraft Noise on Residents Living Around US Airfields…” 2/7/02, Journal of Sound and Vibration, Volume 250, issue 1
  • Hiramatsu et al “A Survey on Health Effects due to Aircraft Noise on Residents Living Aroudn Kadena Air Base in the Ryukyus” 8/28/97, Journal of Sound and Vibration, Volume 205 issue 4
  • Stansfeld et al “Aircraft and road traffic noise and children’s cognition and health: a cross-national study,” 6/4/05, The Lancet, Volume 365, Issue 9475
  • Franssen et al “Assessing Health Consequences in an Environmental Impact Assessment: The case of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol” 11/02, Environmental Impact Assessment Review, volume 22, issue 6
  • Rehm et al “Aircraft Noise and Premature Birth,” 7/8/78, Journal of Sound and Vibration, volume 59, issue 1
  • Wickrama et al “Mental Health Admissions and Aircraft Noise,” 12/13/69, The Lancet, volume 294, issue 7

So…what are your thoughts on the third runway?

  • Too noisy?
  • No difference?
  • Buncha whining?

Please let us know via email, phone (206-248-2565) or if you’re feeling kinda shy, just vote in our unscientific poll on the right sidebar.

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3 Responses to “Third Runway Noise Problem Not Fading Away”
  1. Hellcat says:

    I live just north of 128th in the hood West of 1st South. For the last week Id been thinking.. Dang.. must be low clouds.. I can hear airport traffic!

    I didn't even know the 3rd runway had opened.. Suck.

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  2. AngryInCedarhurst says:

    We second the thanks for bringing this to attention. We live in Cedarhurst and have definitely noticed more noise since the day the 3rd runway opened. The Port's 3rd Runway FAQ on their Web site says the 3rd runway will only be used in bad weather – what a bunch of BS. The weather since it opened has not been that bad. We also think people should be made aware of the following issue, quoted from a Nov. 20 Tacoma News Tribune article: "The new runway will be the airport’s third for only a few months before a maintenance project closes down Sea-Tac’s longest runway, 16 Left. That runway, parts of which were built in 1947 when the airport opened, will be closed from April through September for a complete rebuilding."…A couple years ago we contacted the Port to see if we could get some financial assistance in replacing our 1940's era, single-pane windows. They told us we were a block and a half west of their boundary for home insulation. So I guess we are just screwed. Thanks for the forum to vent!!!

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  3. Miriam says:

    To all homeowners/renters living under or near the third runway flight path:

    If you have concerns about the flight path, come to a neighbor's meeting in Burien on December 19th at 6pm to share your experiences with others and discuss potential legal avenues to address the impact of the third runway on our homes and families. For location and more information, contact Miriam at [email protected] (206.753.8895)

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