A project to build a new runway at Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport will stay on track if the Washington State University Board of Regents approves a deal Wednesday.
WSU's administration is recommending that the trustees accept the latest counteroffer from the Pullman-Moscow airport authority of $15.3 million. The airport wants to buy about two dozen agricultural research buildings and barns and relocate those operations. The structures are in the way of the landing approach to a new runway.
The university and the airport have negotiated and traded offers and counteroffers for well over a year now. The affected research programs would be relocated to a pair of farms south of Pullman. October 2019 is the airport's tentative date to christen a wider, longer and realigned replacement for what is now a below-standard runway and taxiway.
The majority of the funding for the $119 million airport reconstruction project is coming from the federal government. The case for the new runway is based on improving the reliability of air service and handling growing demand.
Since 2006, the Pullman-Moscow airport has needed a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate. The separation between the current runway and the parallel taxiway is less than the 400 feet required by the FAA. The separation distance becomes an issue if large aircraft are using the runway and taxiway at the same time.
The Pullman-Moscow airport currently has daily commercial airline service from Alaska/Horizon Air using large turboprops and also receives the occasional Boeing or Airbus jet on a charter flight.
"This land acquisition was the last big one we have outstanding," airport director Tony Bean said in an interview Monday.
The multi-year runway reconstruction project broke ground last summer -- before the airport authority had control of all of the needed land.
Contractors are working almost 20 hours per day currently, Bean said. This year's primary tasks are earthmoving to build the base for the new runway and installation of an extensive drainage system. Paving should begin next year.