Standoff puts some airport construction projects in limbo

Aug 1, 2011

The Congressional stalemate over the debt ceiling isn't the only Washington standoff in the news this week. A separate showdown over spending by the Federal Aviation Administration is having an immediate effect on jobs and airport construction in our region.

Since last week, this little noticed budget battle has shut down non-essential divisions of the FAA. Airline ticket taxes are going uncollected and the federal workers who drive that money back out for airport improvement projects are furloughed.

In Wenatchee, Washington, airport director Greg Phillips had to freeze a federally funded upgrade to airfield lights and signage.

"It's frustrating," he says. "We're seeing right-left politics interfere with the ability to bring the economy back on line here. This is a job that brings a much needed capital infusion into the local economy."

Uncertainty about long-term funding has also forced the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport to postpone a $3 million runway repaving project. In Everett, $11 million in fixes to the runway the Boeing airplane factory uses are also on hold.

There's fallout at the Eugene Airport too. Now on hold is a contract to design an airplane de-icing facility. It was to be paid for with federal funds.

The Congressional standoff comes as Spokane International Airport is in the midst of a major runway reconstruction project. The airport director there says he plans to use local money to keep the project going temporarily.

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FAA Stop Work Orders that have been issued:

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