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Airport may sue over work on runway

A dispute over specifications for a Spokane International Airport runway that was refurbished in 2004 could lead to a lawsuit with a local engineering firm.

The problems don’t create a hazard that could lead to the shutdown of the runway, airport officials said. But the airport says the firm, Taylor Engineering Inc., failed to meet some FAA standards on the project, which cost $3.6 million. The firm disagrees.

Airport officials received approval this week from county commissioners to sue Taylor Engineering, if necessary, to resolve issues discovered this year when the airport began a new project to extend the main runway.

Commissioners needed to sign off on any possible lawsuit because the county is part owner of the airport.

“There are no safety issues,” said Mike Ormsby, an attorney for the airport. “The FAA wants the standards to be met.”

Because the FAA paid for the construction initially, it is refusing to pay for the fixes, commissioners were told this week.

The standards involve several construction features for the runway.

Airport spokesman Todd Woodard said there’s no estimate yet on costs. The airport is trying to work out a solution with Taylor Engineering and views litigation as its “least-preferred option,” he said. The airport sought approval of local governments to be prepared to sue if that becomes necessary.

Chris Mansfield of Taylor Engineering said the company has worked with the airport for 20 years but “respectfully disagrees with their assessment” of problems on the runway.

“It’s a complicated issue,” Mansfield said, and declined further comment.

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