Construction is expected to begin today to add space for new hangars at the Richland Airport.
Adding utilities and a taxi lane to part of an undeveloped circle at the north end of the airport is part of a $1 million project expected to be completed later this summer.
The Port of Benton almost is out of space for new hangars on already-prepared ground, said John Haakenson, the port's director of airports and operations. That doesn't mean there isn't space available to lease in current buildings, he said.
As part of the same project, the taxiway along runway 26 will be relocated to meet current safety standards, Haakenson said. Once complete, it will be aligned with the taxiway on runway 8. Runways 26 and 8 are the two cross-wind runways.
The undeveloped circle is near other hangars in the northern part of the airport and near Butler Loop. Haakenson said it once was used as a landing spot for skydivers.
Haakenson said the number of new hangars will depend on the type people want to build. The port will own the land and will lease portions to associations or pilots who want to build their own hangar.
There has been some interest, but the land must be prepared first, he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration will pay for about $820,000 of the project and the Washington State Department of Transportation will pay $21,000, said Stuart Dezember, the port's auditor and director of finance. That leaves about $159,000 for the port to cover.
The port recently hired Granite Construction of Pasco for the project.
Detours will be created so pilots can access their hangars and the runways, Haakenson said. The taxiway along runway 26 will be out of service for a couple weeks, but the runway will remain open.
Construction is expected to take 50 days, Haakenson said.
The Port of Benton already has replaced the asphalt on all four runways in the past six years, Haakenson said. The runways also were extended slightly to reach 4,000 feet.
And now, the port is working with the FAA to add an additional instrument approach, such as GPS and extending runway 19, he said. However, it will take time before the port knows if the FAA will provide funding for that project.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org