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Update: Tri-Cities Airport gets $10.6 million federal grant

PASCO — A $10.6 million federal grant will pay to move a frequently used taxiway at the Tri-Cities Airport.

Moving and rebuilding the taxiway is a critical part of the $43.7 million Port of Pasco airport terminal remodel planned to start this summer.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the Federal Aviation Administration grant Friday.

Ron Foraker, Tri-Cities Airport director, said moving the taxiway will provide more flexibility to aircraft at the terminal building.

Taxiway D will be realigned so it is parallel to 7,700-foot Runway 12 for its entire length, Foraker said. It’s the taxiway closest to the terminal building, and so is used about 90 percent of the time, he said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, said in a statement that the grant will help the airport adjust to the rapid growth of passengers.

“I’m pleased that we are continuing to invest in the Tri-Cities regional airport so it can continue to play a strong role in supporting the economy and transportation needs of Washington,” she said. Murray said the money “will improve efficiency and safety at the airport.”

Port commissioners should be able to award a contract for the taxiway project within the next couple weeks, Foraker said. The port had to request bids for the project earlier this year to be eligible for the grant.

Construction should begin in August, when construction on the terminal expansion is expected to begin.

A new section of taxiway will be built directly in front of the terminal first, Foraker said.

“We hope to be able to finish that before the cold weather hits us,” he said. Then, some earthwork will be completed during the winter, with the rest of the taxiway construction to be completed next summer.

The north end of the taxiway only needs to be rebuilt because it’s already correctly aligned, Foraker said.

The taxiway sits over a former runway from when the Pasco airport was a Naval Air Station, Foraker said. At that time, the airport had four runways instead of the current three.

Part of the taxiway construction must wait until the FAA finishes relocating its Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range, or VOR, radio beacon. The new taxiway will go through the former VOR building.

Foraker said the $4.8 million project to move the VOR is expected to finish in October. Once the new one is up and running, the old one can be removed.

The $10.6 million grant comes after an announcement that the port will receive a $6 million federal grant to pay for security enhancements that are part of the terminal expansion.

The grants also are part of the reason port commissioners will be able to consider adding back in portions of the project that earlier were shaved off to save costs. Port commissioners are to meet Wednesday to approve selling bonds for the project. The subcontract bids, which were opened earlier this week, will determine the amount of the bond and which, if any, alternates to include.

Adding space to Gate 5 in the new concourse, renovating the second-floor restrooms and corridor, adding new in-bound baggage equipment and improvements to the short-term parking lot are among alternate work that companies were asked to bid on.

The $6 million FAA grant will help pay to move the staircase, elevator and restrooms to the front of the terminal to open up the area near the security checkpoint.

The remodel, which will double the size of the terminal, also includes expanding ticketing and baggage areas. A new concourse beyond the security area will feature a view of the airfield, with gates to the right and left.

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