Highline priority passes as part of National Defense Authorization Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Commerce Aviation Operations, Safety, & Security Subcommittee, today announced the inclusion of an provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to provide Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding for noise mitigation projects at schools in the Highline School District in Burien, WA.
“This is a great example of how all levels of government can come together to solve a problem. Highline School District has been working tirelessly to meet the terms of the agreement with the FAA to help mitigate noise pollution that the schools experience. The provision in the NDAA was crafted with bipartisan, bicameral support and will help ensure that promises made to our local schools are kept. I thank Senator Cantwell and the Port of Seattle for their advocacy on this critical issue. Having grown up in SeaTac myself, I know it is important to fight for our children’s right to a safe and healthy learning environment,” said Congressman Smith.
“These noise mitigation projects are critical to the Highline School District and providing a comfortable and productive learning environment for all students,” said Senator Cantwell. “I was proud to work with Congressman Smith, the Port of Seattle, and Highline School District to get this critical funding across the finish line.”
Sea-Tac Airport is located in the center of Highline 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 School District outlined noise mitigation for a number of Highline School District 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 contours around the airport changed, leaving the two schools in areas where they did not qualify for the previously agreed upon funding.
In May, Smith offered an amendment to the NDAA – pushed by Sen. Cantwell in the Senate – to fix the issue by allowing the FAA to provide noise mitigation funding to schools like Highline that no longer qualified for the previously committed funding because of the noise contour changes. The amendment will give the district access to more than $14 million in FAA Airport Improvement Grants for noise mitigation projects including replacement of doors, windows, and the installation of through-the-wall AC units, or for new construction to include noise mitigation.
“We are deeply grateful to Rep. Smith and Senator Cantwell for their efforts to ensure that the FAA follows through on its commitment to fund noise insulation at our schools impacted by SeaTac International Airport. Our students deserve the highest quality learning environments we can provide them and this will help us do just that,” said Highline Superintendent Susan Enfield.
“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. Senator Cantwell and Congressman Smith’s leadership to ensure federal noise-insulation funding for these Highline School District schools is a major victory in that effort,” said Christine Gregiore, President of the Port of Seattle Commission.
Sen. Cantwell offered the language last year in the Senate’s FAA Reauthorization bill, and similar language was offered in the House version of the FAA bill. Rep. Smith ensured its inclusion and ultimate passage in the final NDAA bill. Following today’s passage of the NDAA in the House, the legislation is expected to pass in the Senate and be signed by the president.