Grant funds completion of airport runway project

Contractors used $7 million to construct safer take-off area



The re-alignment of the Pullman-Moscow Airport runway was a necessary change to meet Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and enable the airport to stay open.

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport will complete its runway realignment program with the financial help given to the airport by a supplementary grant.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded the airport with a $7 million supplementary grant. The money funded the payments to the contractors completing the runway realignment, said Tony Bean, executive director of Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.

The airport applied for the tier one grant by submitting a 500-word pitch written by Bean and Mead & Hunt, a consultant service.

“[We had to] be able to show [that we were], as the Obama administration termed, ‘shovel ready,’ ” Bean said. “We were ready to spend the money. It’s why we were awarded.”

The runway realignment program was necessary, he said. Currently, the airport’s runway does not meet the requirements set by the FAA, Bean said.

Though the airport has permission from the FAA to continue service, the project must be successfully completed to continue air service in Pullman and Moscow, Bean said.

The grant completed the financial requirements of the project, he said. The funding was used to pay the contractors working on the project, Bean said.

In order to be eligible for the grant, the runway realignment project had to fulfill a checklist of requirements, he said. They included an environmental assessment, project design, land acquisition and construction experience.

He said the environmental assessment cost $3.2 million. A part of the assessment included deciding how much land was necessary for the project. The land acquisition assured enough space for the runway realignment to take place.

The environmental assessment took two years before the land was cleared in December 2014, Bean said.

Some of the land used by the airport’s project once belonged to WSU, he said. The airport purchased the land on Terre View from WSU.

The land, where WSU research facilities were once located, was important to acquire, Bean said. The plans for the project dictated that the instrument landing system would be going through the runway protection zone, which spanned across the previously occupied space, he said.

Owning the land allows the airport to safely control the departure and landing of aircrafts, Bean said.

The first-tier grant was targeted toward small airports with high priority projects that needed funding, Bean said. Pullman Airport’s runway realignment project is funded by nine different grants, seven of which are currently being used, he said.

The entire project cost $142.5 million, Bean said. A portion of the funds, $11.5 million, were raised by local residents, companies and businesses in Pullman and Moscow.

Whitman County contributed $250,000 to the project, he said. Along with a $500,000 donation from University of Idaho, WSU donated $1 million to the airport.

“WSU has been heavily involved in the entire process,” Bean said. “[WSU] is a funding partner and [has been] affected [by the project.]”