The project to build a new runway at Hillsboro Airport is complete, the Port of Portland announced in a mailer sent recently to area residents.
The runway, built to separate business-class jets from smaller planes such as those operated by flight-training students, will open on Thursday, April 30, said the Port, which owns and operates the airport.
“The new runway was identified…as a way to improve efficiency, while reducing congestion and delay, at the state’s busiest general aviation airport,” the Port wrote. “The parallel runway was not built to add commercial service at the airport.”
The smaller aircraft will use the new runway, while the larger jets will use the existing one. A third runway, which is perpendicular to the others, is only used at certain times of year to accommodate for different wind patterns.
The Port went ahead with construction on the project despite a petition filed a year ago in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging the Federal Aviation Administration’s finding that the runway would have no significant environmental impact. A ruling on the case is still pending.
Oregon Aviation Watch, the nonprofit group that filed the petition, also sought an emergency injunction halting construction, but the Ninth Circuit denied that request.
The nonprofit has repeatedly raised concerns about the airport’s lead emissions. Hillsboro Airport competes yearly with Portland International Airport for the distinction of the state’s busiest, and it is the leading facility source of lead in Oregon and among the top 100 nationwide, according to data collected by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011.