Spokane Journal of Business

Airport plans to award $17 million in work

Two-year project will move taxiway, remove rock hill, and add heavy-duty apron

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Spokane International Airport plans this month to seek bids for projects that will cost more than $17.5 million and will involve rebuilding a taxiway, constructing a new cargo apron, removing a rock outcropping, and building or moving access roads.


The bulk of the work will be handled in one, multifaceted project that is estimated to cost more than $15 million and will take a couple of years to complete, says airport spokesman Todd Woodard.


A second project, worth $2.5 million, will involve building a new road from Geiger Boulevard, on the east side of the airport, west roughly a mile to an area near the eastern end of the airports general-aviation runway. The new road, which hasnt yet been given a name, will be used as a new entrance to the airport for general aviation vehicle traffic.


Woodard says the airport wants future growth in general aviation development to be clustered in that southeastern portion of the airport, away from the air-cargo operations it plans to cluster just to the north. The new road, which will be located just south of Warehouse Avenue, will help accommodate that future growth, he says.


Both contracts are expected to be awarded on May 15 by the Spokane Airport Board, which operates the airport, and work should begin on both soon after. The general aviation road project is expected to be completed later this year, while work on the other contract likely will be completed a year later. The roadway work is being funded out of general airport revenues, while the rest of the work will be funded 90 percent by Federal Aviation Administration grants, Woodard says.


The main impetus for the larger of the two projects was the need to move the airports Taxiway G slightly to the southeast of its current location, to separate it more from the main airport runway, he says. That move will allow wide-body cargo jets, with greater wingspans, to use the taxiway safely while other craft are landing or taking off on the main runway. The new Taxiway G, at about 3,000 feet in length, also will be somewhat longer than the current one, and eventually will be lengthened to the full 9,000-foot length of the main runway, Woodard says. The airport already has secured about $4 million in additional funding for that future expansion, and believes it will need another $7 million to complete the project.


The other elements of the $15 million-plus taxiway project to be let next month are either associated with the taxiway move or are being done in connection with it for logistical or efficiency reasons, he says. They include:


Building a five-acre, triangular-shaped cargo apron near the northeast end of the reconstructed taxiway. That heavy-duty apron will be located just north of a big new cargo apron constructed last year, and just west of the U.S. Postal Services processing-and-distribution center in the adjacent Spokane International Airport Business Park. It will further help cluster air cargo operations at the northeast corner of the airport.


Removing a large, rock protrusion located near the northeast end of the main runway. Removal of that outcropping, which contains an estimated 100,000 cubic yards of material, will enable the airport to achieve whats called a Category 3 instrument landing designation for the approach to that end of the runway. Such a designation allows for landings with little or no visibility, Woodard says. That end of the runway currently has a Category 2 designation. Approaches from the southwestern end of the main runway already have Category 3 designation.


Relocation of a perimeter access road currently located where the northern end of the relocated Taxiway G will be built. The access road, which is used only by official airport vehicles such as fueling trucks and emergency and security vehicles, will be moved slightly to the east of its current location.


Woodard says that although each of the two main projects that will be let next month will go to single contractors, the nature of the work likely will require the use of numerous subcontractors by each.


The Airport Board also this year may decide to go ahead with another $5.2 million in projects, including a $3.2 million speculative office-and-warehouse building in its business park that would have as much as 40,000 square feet of space; a $1 million renovation of the circular ramps that allow motorists to drive between floors in the older airport parking garage; and a $1 million renovation of the ticket counter in the main terminal building.


Woodard says the airport board might make a decision at midyear as to when it will launch those projects.


Separately, the airport is spending about $1.2 million this year to assist Granite Investments LLC, of Spokane, in the construction of an extension of Flint Road from U.S. 2 south to the main public access road into the airport. Granite Investments, which is affiliated with Spokane developer Dick Vandervert, is developing the Pacific Northwest Technology Park, which will take advantage of Flint road for access to the park. From the airports perspective, the road extension will provide faster access to the airport to vehicles on U.S. 2, and also will include additional sewer and water infrastructure that the airport eventually will need when it expands its terminal complex, Woodard says.

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