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WSDOT responds to community concerns about Methow airport beacon

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Date:  Monday, November 19, 2012

Contact: Nisha Marvel, WSDOT Aviation communications, 360-651-6310

WINTHROP – After receiving more than 400 comments on the rotating navigational beacon at the Methow Valley State Airport, the Washington State Department of Transportation will request that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allow the beacon to be pilot-controlled. The FAA typically requires rotating beacons to operate from dusk to dawn at federally-funded, lighted airports, such as Methow.

WSDOT turned the beacon off on July 18, 2012, following community concerns that the beacon’s light was intrusive to airport neighbors. WSDOT then initiated a visual impact analysis to study the effects of the beacon on the community, and obtain more input. From Nov. 5-7, crews tested the beacon at 8- to 12-degree angles, and tested a shield that partially blocked the light.

Following the testing, WSDOT asked the Methow community to weigh in during a public comment period from Nov. 9-16. Over 90 percent of the comments indicated that the different angles and shielding resulted in no improvement to the beacon’s effect on the community. Many residents preferred to have a pilot-controlled beacon rather than operating the beacon from dusk to dawn.

Last week, WSDOT Aviation Director Tristan Atkins met with the manager of the FAA Seattle Airports district office in Renton to discuss the community’s concerns and the planned request to modify the beacon’s operation.

WSDOT plans to submit its request to the FAA for a pilot-controlled beacon once the visual impact analysis report is completed in January 2013.

The beacon will remain off until a determination is made on how to move forward.

The beacon was installed as part of the recently completed Methow Airport Layout Plan, which laid the groundwork for several safety projects, including lighting improvements, obstruction surveying, obstruction removal, perimeter fencing and runway safety area grading.

View frequently asked questions regarding the Methow airport beacon.

More information is available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Aviation/MethowImprovements.


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