The Port of Pasco got welcome news earlier than expected with the confirmation Monday that the Tri-Cities Airport renovation will receive a $6 million federal grant.
The Federal Aviation Administration grant will help the port pay for a $43.7 million project to double the size of the Tri-Cities Airport terminal.
“We knew that the regional FAA office had recommended the award,” said Randy Hayden, the port’s executive director.
Typically that’s a sure bet that the money will come through, he said.
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U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash, said in a statement that the grant will allow the airport to keep pace with rapidly growing use and the needs of the growing Tri-City community.
“The Tri-Cities Regional Airport is a vital portion of Washington state's transportation infrastructure, and these funds will improve efficiency and safety at the airport,” said Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.
The grant is for security enhancements, which means it will help pay to move the staircase, elevator and restrooms to the front of the terminal building to open up the area near the security checkpoint, said Ron Foraker, Tri-Cities Airport director.
That area can become a bottleneck when a number of flights depart around the same time.
The remodel also includes expanding the ticketing and baggage areas and building a new concourse beyond the security area that will feature a view of the airfield, with gates to the right and left. Construction is expected to start by Aug. 1.
Port commissioners hope the $6 million grant will allow the port to include parts of the project that were taken out earlier to cut costs.
But that won’t be decided until after Bouten Construction Co., which commissioners unanimously hired to build the full remodel project last week, receives the bids for subcontracts. Those contracts likely will be awarded in June.
Overall, the port will be using a little more than $12 million in grants to help pay for the terminal project, Foraker said.
In addition to the $6 million discretionary grant from the FAA that was announced Monday, the port plans to use its airport improvement program dollars for the project for the next three years. That is $2.4 million for this year, with the amount varying based on the number of boardings.
The port also will issue bonds to pay for the project. The bonds could be up to $27.4 million, with an annual debt payment of about $2.2 million.
Port officials plan to pay the annual bond debt using $1.1 million from the passenger facility charges on airline tickets and other airport revenue.