Airport reopens after renovations

New runway will be able to accommodate larger planes with max capacity of 440



Karen Miles, civil engineering project manager for the FAA, Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson and Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert cut the ribbon for the reopening of the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport on Thursday.

LUKE HUDSON, Evergreen reporter

After a month of upgrades to the landing system, city administrators at the Pullman-Moscow Airport unveiled the airport’s new runway Thursday when it reopened.

Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson and Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert cut the 150-foot ribbon in the middle of the new runway.

“We are the Palouse, I don’t see a vision of a state line between us,” Lambert said. “And we’re all friends, we got to make it happen through our two communities.”

The airport’s director, Tony Bean, said he is grateful to the individuals and organizations that came together to finish the project. The collaboration between so many people gives him confidence that the next phase of construction will go just as smoothly.

The next phase of construction includes a taxiing runway and a new, larger terminal, Bean said.

“It is not just our quality of life here in our region that is affected by a project like this,” he said.  “It is a quality of life that happens regionally, nationally and globally from the products and services produced.”

Bean said projects like this are successful because of peoples’ commitment to completing it.

“Airports are a window into the vitality of our community,” Bean said. “And although the project was about a runway, it was about more than that. It was about a belief in what the future of our communities needed to be.”

The new runway will be able to accommodate larger aircraft such as the Boeing 747, according to an article published in Northwest Public Broadcasting. That aircraft can carry up to 440 passengers in a typical layout, according to Boeing.

Before the upgrades, the runway could only handle smaller planes that carry fewer people such as the Bombardier Q-400, according to NWPB.

The total cost for the project is about $140 million, according to an article published by The Daily Evergreen.

Stacy Pearson, WSU vice president of finance and administration, said these upgrades will help the WSU community and make traveling to WSU easier.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said this project is important infrastructure for the region and that the country is focusing on infrastructure right now. She said the airport has connected Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories to over 39 countries, with over 1,500 takeoffs and landings every year.

“I want to say thanks to Mayor Johnson, and Mayor Lambert and the entire board and everyone that was a part of making this happen,” McMorris Rodgers said.  “It really is an example of a local community coming together, imagining what’s possible.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was scheduled to attend but sent State Director Tommy Bauer in her place.

“We know that in our state 97 percent of gross business income is generated by businesses within 10 miles of an airport, and 70 percent by businesses within five miles of an airport,” Bauer said. “This project is a huge step forward for the Palouse region.”

Mayor Johnson said the Republican Delegation of Idaho and the Democratic Delegation of Washington, as well as the office of McMorris Rodgers, worked together to fund construction.

“Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is an example that they actually can get things done,” Johnson said.

Karen Miles, civil engineering project manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, said that in her 35-year career, this is only the third time a new runway was built.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.