Getting There: Small Airports Get a Boost in Washington State Funding
January 11, 2016
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  • Hidden within Washington state’s massive 2015 transportation funding package is a provision to help communities around the state maintain and upgrade their airports.

    Lawmakers agreed last summer to add about $640,000 annually to support local airport funding, a program that dates to 1947. The money is typically used as matching funds for federal aviation grants.

    Across Eastern Washington, small airports are in line for improvements, thanks to the state investment. Statewide, 59 airports will receive a total of $1.9 million in funding this fiscal year.

    The money comes from an 11-cent tax on aviation fuel, aircraft registration fees and an excise tax on aircraft.

    The state’s aeronautics fund previously received 10 percent of the excise tax. The Legislature’s 2015 funding package allows all of that tax to go into the aeronautics fund, said Eric Johnson, the state’s construction and grants program manager.

    Local airports and runways are considered a vital part of the public infrastructure in Washington. Last summer’s wildfires showed the need for airport access in many areas, Johnson said.

    Airports also are needed for medical evacuations, business development, local economies, tourism and recreation.

    In Spokane, Felts Field will receive $250,000 toward its $4.9 million effort to rehabilitate taxiways.

    A runway rehabilitation at Ferry County’s Merritt Field is in the design phase. The state will contribute $50,000 to that.

    Anderson Field in Brewster is in line for $6,400 to purchase a new beacon, wind cone and segmented circle.

    Sand Canyon Airport in Chewelah needs an extension of a taxiway. That project is in the design phase. The state is contributing $10,500 to the design.

    The Port of Whitman Business Air Center at Colfax is working on a $1.8 million reconstruction of the runway. The state is contributing $104,000 to that project.

    Davenport Municipal Airport is relocating and rehabilitating a runway. The project is in its initial phase of environmental assessment. The state is contributing $13,000 to the $250,000 cost of the work.

    In Ephrata, airfield pavement maintenance is getting $16,500 in state funds on a $300,000 project.

    Ione Municipal Airport is getting $13,000 toward a $230,000 project to build a turnaround on its runway.

    Odessa Municipal Airport is looking at alternatives for its runways and is analyzing the job. That drew a $9,300 grant for a $167,000 job.

    Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport received $250,000 for a $16 million job for the first phase to realign the runway.

    Pru Field in Ritzville is getting $50,000 for a $878,000 job to rehabilitate its runway.

    Wilbur Municipal Airport is in line for $22,200 as part of a $418,000 job to maintain pavement.

    The large state transportation package approved last summer will pay for completion of the North Spokane Corridor from Hillyard to Interstate 90 as well as many other projects across the state. It is being funded in part by a 7-cent-a-gallon gas tax implemented in August and a 4.9-cent increase in July.

    Oil terminal comments sought

    The Spokane Valley City Council is taking public comment on a proposed oil terminal in Vancouver, Washington, which is being sought by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies.

    The council has set a public hearing for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Ave.

    The hearing is to take testimony on the council’s formation of its own comments on the project.

    Oil shipments to the terminal would pass through Spokane, Spokane Valley, North Idaho and Eastern Washington. As many as 10 additional oil trains would travel through the region each day with shipments to the terminal.

    Another Starbucks opens at airport

    Those early morning flights out of Concourse C at Spokane International Airport just got a bit of a lift. A new Starbucks outlet has opened on the upper floor of the concourse used by Alaska Airlines. The brew is available throughout the day.