Pullman airport nets $7 million federal grant for runway expansion

By:  Nicholas Deshais
Source: The Spokesman Review

Work to expand the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport continues, most recently with a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help build a longer, wider runway.

The grant was part of a larger $586 million airport infrastructure grant package announced Tuesday. In all, airports in Washington state received a total of $10.6 million in grants Tuesday from the federal transportation department’s Airport Improvement Program.

The need for upgraded facilities at the regional airport follows the growing number of passengers there, and the airport’s introduction of larger aircraft. The airport is in the midst of more than $140 million in construction projects, which began in 2016.

The expansion has led to the relocation of several of Washington State University’s animal research programs and associated structures to other university-owned properties. In 2017, WSU sold 125 acres of land to the airport for the expansion, at a cost of nearly $15 million.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, claimed credit for securing the $7 million grant. In June, Cantwell also helped guide two grants totaling $10 million to the airport. The first grant, for $6.8 million, is going toward paving the airport’s new 7,100 foot runway. The second grant, for $3.2 million, is helping build an instrument landing system, which helps guide planes as they approach and land.

In August 2017, the airport received a $5.2 million grant to realign 7,100 feet of runway to meet Federal Aviation Administration design standards. The runway is currently 6,700 feet long.

The most recent grant will also go toward paving and finishing the new runway. The new runway is anticipated to be operational in fall 2019.

In 2017, the airport saw 59,000 inbound passengers, down from 61,000 in 2016 but up from 50,000 in 2015.

According to the FAA, Tuesday’s grants are the fifth increment of funding, which brings the total to almost $3.2 billion in Airport Improvement Program grants. Tuesday’s funding doled out 217 grants to 181 airports in 39 states. The money goes toward 458 infrastructure projects, which include runways, terminals, aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles, snow removal equipment and two firefighting training facilities.