FAA Raises Funding Priority for Tri-Cities Airport - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

FAA Raises Funding Priority for Tri-Cities Airport

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The FAA is raising the priority level for federal funding to help the expansion project at the Tri-Cities Airport. The FAA is raising the priority level for federal funding to help the expansion project at the Tri-Cities Airport.

PASCO, WA-- The FAA is raising the priority level for federal funding to help the expansion project at the Tri-Cities Airport. And it comes at a crucial time as the airport prepares to double in size.

The priority level change is a confidence boost for the Port of Pasco and the Tri-Cities Airport that they'll receive the funding they need for the expansion project. That FAA funding will contribute a much needed $8 million to the project that plans to double the size of the airport.

And now, airport administrators feel reassured about that funding after the FAA made the funding a top-tier priority.

"Higher assurance that the funding would be available and a higher assurance that the timing on the construction project will be able to proceed on schedule," said James Toomey, Port of Pasco.

The priority change will likely get the airport the grant money a few months earlier, by next spring, before construction is planned to begin in the summer.

"Having those dollars earlier rather than later would really help our financial picture in how we're going to pay for the project improvements," said Ron Foraker, Tri-Cities Airport.

The FAA money will help expand the security screening area, which is cramped and often inefficient in accommodating the growing passenger numbers.

The $43 million remodel will also expand the boarding area and baggage claim.

"It's needed. We've got to keep up with the growth in the region. Part of our traffic we get from Oregon as far as Moses Lake, Yakima, Walla Walla," Foraker said.

"An expansion had to move beyond a facelift and into truly a doubling in size to accommodate those projected boardings," Toomey said.

The FAA funding ensures the airport can meet their construction budget needs and pay for the project without asking for taxpayer money.

The Port of Pasco is also working with architects to reduce costs for the project by $1 million to stay within budget. And administrators say the FAA money is crucial to get the expansion off the ground.

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