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Oregon could experience a magnitude-8.7 or larger earthquake within 50 years that causes catastrophic deaths and damage. Portland International Airport (PDX) can play a crucial role speeding the response and recovery and prevent much of the harm. The Port of Portland engaged the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to estimate the benefit of protecting PDX’s south runway from earthquake damage. NIBS estimates savings of $7.4 billion, which is 50 times the cost. A resilient runway will:
$460 million in health and medical benefits. The area has almost 3 million people, but fewer than 400 vacant ICU and emergency department beds. Medical evacuation through PDX can save up to 1,600 lives.
$5.7 billion from fast re-occupancy of buildings. Up to 600,000 buildings will need safety evaluation. We need a resilient runway so thousands of experts can help people return quickly to safe buildings.
$1.2 billion in reduced business interruption losses. Much of $200 billion in gross regional product relies to some extent on PDX. A resilient runway will allow PDX to resume operations up to one year sooner.
$4 million in reduced repair costs to fix the remaining (un-strengthened) portion of the runway. PDX can rely on the strengthened part during recovery.
Natural hazard mitigation saves. Earthquakes, fires, and storms threaten our infrastructure. Much of it was designed with a false economy, minimizing initial investment but costing society more in the long run. Studies like this show that we can cost-effectively improve our infrastructure and prevent future catastrophes.