U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on Tuesday (June 25) announced that $9.1 million in federal funding was awarded to support noise mitigation projects at schools in Highline Public Schools.

These funds will help support student learning by reducing classroom interruptions from excessive aircraft noise from nearby Sea-Tac Airport.

“Students in Burien and Des Moines deserve a healthy and productive learning environment, despite their close proximity to our state’s busiest airport,” said Senator Cantwell. “I’m proud to have teamed up with Congressman Smith and the Port of Seattle to ensure these critical noise mitigation projects receive the resources they need to support Highline students.”

“This is a great example of how partners at all levels of government can work together to keep the promises made to our students. Having grown up in SeaTac myself, I know firsthand the challenges faced by our communities and how important federal resources and support are to fixing them,” said Congressman Smith.

The grants announced yesterday by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) award the Port of Seattle with $6 million for noise mitigation measures for Highline High School in Burien and $3.1 million for the same purposes for Des Moines Elementary in Des Moines. In total, these projects will benefit more than 1,600 students. The funds will be disbursed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“The Port is committed to economic opportunity and quality of life for all local residents, and there is no more important investment in our communities than modern, clean and quiet schools for our students,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Stephanie Bowman. “Senator Cantwell’s and Representative Smith’s leadership on ensuring this funding was a major victory, and we look forward to working with both of them, the FAA and the school district on these projects.”

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is located in the center of the school district, and many of the district’s schools are impacted by airport noise. A 2002 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Port of Seattle, the FAA, and Highline Public Schools outlined noise mitigation for a number of Highline schools. Since the MOA was signed, the Port and the Highline school district met their portion of the funding obligation. During that time, the noise contour map around the airport was slightly changed, leaving a number of schools in areas that then did not qualify for the previously agreed upon funding. Still, schools in these areas continue to be negatively impacted by airport noise.

Last year, Senator Cantwell and Representative Smith pushed for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to fix this issue by allowing the FAA to provide noise mitigation funds to schools that were excluded from the previously-committed funding due to the changes in the noise contour map. The amendment was ultimately passed by Congress and signed into law, giving Highline Public Schools access to more than $14 million in FAA Airport Improvement Grants for noise mitigation projects. These projects include replacement of doors, windows, and the installation of through-the-wall AC units, as well as funds for new construction to include noise mitigation.

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