Hood River Airport

County adopts Ken Jernstedt Airfield Airport Master Plan

Safety for both ground vehicles and aircraft should improve around the Port of Hood River's Ken Jernstedt Airfield, thanks to Hood River County Board of Commissioners action in mid-May adopting the airport's master plan.

But some serious work must first occur, including the public process of vacating a section of Orchard Road east of the airfield.

The County Commission May 18, 2009, approved adoption of the Ken Jernstedt Airfield Airport Master Plan. A key component of the planning document is shifting the existing 3,040-foot runway 550 feet to the east, a move that will require abandoning Orchard Road where it currently abuts the airport's eastern side.

This runway shift, however, will move the landing strip farther from a busy arterial, State Highway 281/Tucker Road, the major road south of Hood River that sees heavy motorist use. While the airport's runway will not be any longer, it will see a significant move to the east, allowing westbound aircraft to gain more height before flying over the state highway. By vacating Orchard Road on the east side, the potential for accidents involving plans and ground vehicles is diminished.

Before its unanimous vote adopting the master plan, County Commissioners noted that airport neighbors were among the loudest voices they heard during the May public hearing. And, most of the testifying residents said they favored safety over the convenience of a shorter route into Hood River.

Bud Pepitone, whose home is located next to the southern and farthest end of the potential road vacation, told County Commissioners he'd rather have a longer drive to Hood River instead of the present situation that includes speeding cars. "That whole section becomes the Grand Prix on Saturday night," he said, adding road abandonment means about a three-minute longer drive to town.

County Chair Ron Rivers noted there was little public opposition to the master plan and its roadway vacation component. "I thought Orchard Road would be the Achilles Heel but it doesn't seem that way at all. And I'm quite pleased," Rivers said before the County Commission's unanimous vote in favor of master plan adoption.

The primary obstacle identified during the public hearing was the loss of bicycle access where the planned Orchard Road vacation will occur. The Port agreed to work with local groups, including the Hood River Valley Residents Committee, to develop alternative routes. One possibility may be widening the shoulders along Tucker Road west of the airfield, which need to be rebuilt as a result of the Windmaster sewer project currently being constructed there.

While the county has approved the master plan, actual road vacation is a separate and public step. The Port will work with the Federal Aviation Administration to develop a funding package for the runway shift and corresponding closure of about 100 feet of Orchard Road. That work should be completed later this fall. Once funding has been identified, the Port will work with the county to vacate the road section, and that process will include at least one public hearing before the County Commission. The Port owns property east of Orchard Road where the relocated runway will be sited.

In addition to moving the runway 550 feet to the east, the master plan also calls for rebuilding the present taxiway and moving it 35 feet farther north, and establishing airport services like fueling on the north side of the airfield.

Before arriving at the County Commission, the airport master plan was reviewed by the Hood River County Planning Commission in two public hearings dating back to last October. Following direction from that panel and county planning staff, the Port modified the master plan to erase unintended land use consequences. The primary change was removing all of the plan's references to an instrument approach, which was deemed impractical for the hilly Hood River Valley but would have created zoning and building requirements nearly two miles away from the airport. Instead, the master plan's current visual approach was maintained, essentially leaving unchanged land use requirements surrounding the airfield.

County adoption of the airport master plan was identified as a top priority by the citizen-based Airport Advisory Committee, which works on airport issues with the Port. May's County Commission action marked the first time that board adopted an airport master plan. The county transferred the airport to the Port in 1976.

- Summer 2009 Port of Hood River Newsletter

Ken Jernstedt Airfield Airport Master Plan


Airport Layout Plan

Existing FAR Part 77 Airspace Plan

Future FAR Part 77 Airspace Plan

Runway Protection Zone and Inner Approach Plan and Profile

Airport Land Use Plan with 2022 Noise Contours