New estimate for project cost determined at $89 million
PUW—The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport (PUW), in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), will publish the draft environmental assessment in the next several weeks completing another phase of the major runway realignment project.
Kevin Mulcaster, of the firm of Mead and Hunt, has been the lead for the development of the draft over the past two years. The draft document is over 1,600 pages, including supporting documents and has been reviewed by the FAA’s regional office in Renton. Two public hearings will be held, one in Moscow and one in Pullman. The dates and locations of those forums will be announced later. Comments will be addressed and then the FAA will issue an environmental finding.
During preparation of the assessment the airport board requested that the consulting firm update the previous projections for the cost of the project that were initially gathered about seven years ago with an attempt to estimate the cost for the project for 2011.
Mead and Hunt has completed additional studies in an effort to refine the cost estimates and is now projecting that the cost for the project to be $89 million in 2018 dollars. That figure is up from the $66 million that was estimated in 2007. The project would be funded through the Airport Improvement Program. The local match went from around $6 million to around $9 million. The region’s Congressional representatives are working to make an equitable change in the local match, authored by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, and supported by both Washington and Idaho Congressional delegations. The modification would reduce the match required by this airport from 10 percent to 8.125 percent. Both Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson and Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert praised the Idaho and Washington delegations for their work on reducing the local match funds required by the FAA for the project. “It’s refreshing to see our national leaders work across the aisle to help our region,” said Lambert.
Lambert pointed out that the reason this project has such a high priority is because the airport is currently operating under a modification of standard. “The runway and the taxiway are too close together for the larger commercial aircraft now used by Alaska Airlines. As long as we have a project that will address that issue, the FAA will continue to allow the airport to be serviced by the larger commercial aircraft.” Under the FAA guidelines, if a large plane is on the runway, no other aircraft can be on a taxiway until the larger aircraft arrives at the terminal or stops at a hangar.
In determining the updated costs, the consultants said the construction climate has changed dramatically in those seven years, which both Moscow and Pullman have experienced with recent projects.
Mulcaster said there were four major factors that contributed to the new estimate. He said they estimated inflation for this project in 2018 dollars, new design standards were issued that increased the width of the runway, new research dictated a more complex storm water management system would be needed, and there could be a need to run some electrical utilities underground.
The two major sponsors of the airport—Moscow and Pullman—are working through their budget processes to come up with a portion of the local match. The other partners—Washington State University, the University of Idaho, Port of Whitman and Latah County—and the private sector will be asked to participate at varying levels in the local match. The project will be completed one grant at a time requiring only those matching dollars for each grant. This allows the sponsors to attain the matching funding on a schedule and not all at once.
Airport board member and Latah County representative, Paul Kimmell, said “The project is one of the most significant and critical investments we can make in our transportation infrastructure and it’s extremely important to the economic future of this region. This investment will positively impact not only our communities and residents, but our two major land-grant research universities and our growing private business sector.” Kimmell noted the number of flights made each week by Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) in their four business jets, and other corporate air traffic (including his employer, Avista Corp.) land at this airport each week. “Then add Alaska Airline’s four flights a day to and from Seattle, the medical flights by MedStar, general aviation and football weekends at Idaho and WSU and you can see the tremendous economic impact this airport has on the region,” Kimmell said.
The airport board also asked Mead and Hunt to factor in a 25-percent contingency for the $89 million project in case it was needed. If the contingency was added the project could be has high as $119 million.
PUW EA Press Release