FAA can't offer grant for Tri-Cities Airport expansion

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 25, 2013 

Tri-Cities Airport Aerial

September 14, 2013 - A potential $8 million Federal Aviation Administration grant for the Tri-Cities Airport would double the size of the terminal from almost 55,000 to 110,000 square feet.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

The Port of Pasco may have to head back to the drawing board to determine if it can afford to build a $40 million expansion to the Tri-Cities Airport terminal all in one go.

Port officials were told this week that the Federal Aviation Administration did not have enough discretionary money left from the 2013 budget for the $8 million grant, which would have defrayed the cost.

The port still has a shot at receiving an $8 million federal grant, but won't find out for sure until April, said Ron Foraker, the airport's director.

FAA officials have told the port that the grant application looks promising but is not guaranteed, Foraker said.

The port will have to consider other financing options and the possibility of phasing the terminal expansion, said Jean Ryckman, the port commission president. Without the grant, there is a $4.5 million gap between the current cost estimate and anticipated funding.

Port commissioners have been attempting to avoid phasing the project, which will double the size of the terminal to about 110,000 square feet. However, they have also been emphatic that it should be paid for using airport revenues, not general tax dollars.

The staircase and restrooms would be moved to the front of the terminal building to open up the area near the security checkpoint. Security, ticketing and baggage areas also would be expanded. A new concourse beyond the security area would feature a view of the airfield, with gates to the right and left.

The FAA grant would help cover the costs associated with expanding the screening area and remodeling the spaces used by Transportation Security Administration employees, Foraker said.

The contractor, Bouten Construction, is expected to give the port a final cost estimate in February. Construction still is planned to begin this coming summer, likely in June or July, Foraker said.

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-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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