Cost For Pullman-Moscow Airport Project Rises To $89 Million

Aug. 02--The cost of the planned runway realignment project at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport has increased to an estimated $89 million, a hefty jump over the $66 million figure for the project back in 2007.

Much of the added cost would be to pay for a wider and longer runway than originally anticipated, said Tony Bean, the airport's executive director.

To meet requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration, the runway will need to be 200 feet wide with ground lighting and other pilot guidance aids imbedded in the runway on both sides. The earlier plan called for a width just half that figure. It'll also have to be 400 feet longer than in the initial design plan, which would bring it to a length of 7,500 feet.

The new price tag also reflects a more complex water management system and costs associated with more intensive electrical utilities work.

Getting the design of the runway right is important because many aircraft are too large to fit safely on the current runway due to the closeness of it and the taxiway. Currently, when those larger aircraft need the runway no other aircraft can be on the taxiway until the large aircraft arrives at the terminal or stops at a hangar, Bean said.

The FAA, which has classified the work as a high-priority project, is allowing the airport to continue commercial flights as long as it is moving forward the project.

"As long as we have a project that will address that issue, the FAA will continue to allow the airport to be serviced by the larger commercial aircraft," said Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert, vice-chair of the airport board.

Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson, who is the board chair, said the upgrade is necessary so the airport can meet future aviation demands and enhance the area's commercial and economic future.

Airport officials have completed a required 1,600-page environmental assessment, which has been reviewed by the FAA, and expect it to be published in the next few weeks. Two public hearings will be held regarding the assessment, one in Moscow and the other in Pullman, with dates to be announced later. Copies of the document will be available soon.

Most of the money for the upgrade will come from the federal government, specifically the Airport Improvement Program.

But the primary partners that operate the airport, the cities of Pullman and Moscow, need to raise matching funds now totaling $9 million.

The other airport partners -- Washington State University, the University of Idaho, Port of Whitman and Latah County -- as well as members of the private sector are going to be asked to help with the matching funds.

Terri Harber can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to tharber@dnews.com.

Copyright 2014 - Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho

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