Fifteen trucks ferry concrete in a constant stream to the northeast end of the main runway at Spokane International Airport.
More than 100 workers are on the job, building a new runway segment that will remove a 5-foot dip in the old runway. The job reached its halfway point last week.
The work is among a series of major projects in recent years to upgrade the Spokane airport at a cost of nearly $110 million.
The job pays union salaries and is considered an important component of Spokane’s economy.
It is part of a broader investment in the region’s transportation system, including improvements to Interstate 90, construction of a North Spokane freeway and improvements to city and county roadways.
But construction workers are concerned about what happens after the current round of funding comes to an end.
“We have a lot of work this year, but I’m a little concerned about next year,” Robert Seghetti, vice president at Spokane’s Acme Concrete Paving Co., said at a ceremony marking the halfway point last week.
Rich Hadley, president and chief executive officer of Greater Spokane Incorporated, said he hopes that spending on private projects will replace declining spending on public works.
The recent announcement that Caterpillar will build a $37 million distribution center on the West Plains has raised hope that more business development is on the way, Hadley said.
For now, the noise of a big concrete paving job is music to the ears of workers and community leaders.
State Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, who also attended last week’s ceremony, started his career as a union cement finisher.
Ormsby couldn’t help but point out the how pleasing the smell of concrete was.
But there is no disguising the back-breaking nature of the job. Workers use hand tools to finish the surface and make sure there are no air gaps.
A huge diesel generator powers the series of machines that place and lay the concrete.
Every hour, the machine and workers lay 200 feet of concrete in a layer 17 inches thick.
The job involved placing a large rock-and-concrete fill to raise the runway level. Recycled concrete from demolition of old pavement was used in part.
Funding is coming from airport concessions, parking and leases; the 8 percent ticket fee collected from passengers; and aviation fuel taxes.
The Federal Aviation Administration provided $16 million in discretionary funding because the project was considered a priority in the region.
The subcontractors are Colvico Inc. for electrical systems, Northwest Fence Co., Inland Asphalt Co., Century Survey, Budinger & Associates, Apex Curb & Turf LLC, Apply-A-Line Inc. and Cardinal International Grooving and Grinding.
The labor will require an estimated 79,500 man-hours. The job calls for 45,500 cubic yards of concrete.
Work will begin today on Mission Avenue from Napa to Regal streets. It’s part of a larger project to rebuild Mission under a voter bond issue.
Mission Avenue from Hamilton to Napa streets is expected to reopen late Friday following reconstruction.
Elsewhere, work on Wellesley Avenue has closed the arterial from Milton to Belt streets while the segment from Belt to Ash is reduced to one lane in each direction.
Work on Grand Boulevard from 29th to 37th avenues has closed that section of road, too.
Rock blasting will close I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass for at least one hour at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The blasting, which will continue through the summer, is to clear the way for a wider and safer freeway segment along Keechelus Lake.
A statewide enforcement campaign to catch speeding drivers will start Friday and continue through Aug. 7.
The Washington State Patrol and local agencies will participate in the emphasis efforts.
In 2009, half of Spokane County’s 44 traffic fatalities involved speed.
The enforcement campaign is part of the Target Zero effort to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Washington by 2030.