July 30, 2012 in City, Health

Getting There: Grant will help airport cut planes’ emissions

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane International Airport is getting green on the tarmac.

The airport is undertaking a $2.8 million project to reduce exhaust emissions from aircraft and ground-based generators.

The bulk of the funding is coming from a federal aviation grant intended to cut fossil fuel consumption and improve air quality.

The airport is going to purchase and install 11 new heating and cooling units that are powered by electricity and can be hooked to the belly of a passenger jet to provide interior climate control between landings and takeoffs.

The air units will be tucked beneath walkway bridges at each gate.

In addition, the airport is going to install four new ground power converters at its cargo terminal so that cargo planes can be hooked to electrical power instead of diesel or jet fuel auxiliary power units.

An onboard aircraft auxiliary power unit consumes 54 gallons of jet fuel an hour at a cost of more than $300.

A study by Leigh/Fisher Management Consultants estimated that the changes will annually cut 8 tons of nitrogen oxides, a precursor to ozone pollution, and 7.6 tons of carbon monoxide. Smaller amounts of particulate matter, sulfur gases and volatile organic compounds would also be eliminated.

Over a 20-year period, the reductions will equal the annual output from a single coal-fired power plant, said Darcy Zarubiak, of Leigh/Fisher.

With the program, Spokane International Airport will join 27 other airports taking advantage of the Federal Aviation Administration’s “voluntary airport low emissions” funding and be the first in the Pacific Northwest to do so. There are 161 airports nationwide that are eligible for the program.

“Anything we can do to reduce (airlines’) fuel burn is going to be critical to them,” said Lawrence Krauter, airport director and chief executive officer.

Krauter, who took the Spokane job a year ago, worked on a similar project at his former job at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Pennsylvania.

In addition to reducing fuel costs, the project will create jobs and bring money to the local economy, Krauter said.

On top of that, the project qualifies for federal emissions credits that can be used in meeting federal air pollution standards for future expansion of airline service in Spokane.

The fact that Spokane is considered a federal air-quality maintenance area factored into the airport winning the grant.

Airport officials are already planning a second phase under the low emissions grant program, which would likely involve electrical ground vehicles, solar power and alternative fuels, including geothermal energy.

“We have a good track record of being environmentally responsible,” Krauter said.

The emissions grant is one of three approved recently for the airport. As a group, the grants will bring $10 million in improvements to the airport this year.

Other work involves rehabilitation of old taxiways and ramps, an air cargo ramp apron, and work on a new firefighting and rescue station.

I-90 project starts

Work begins today on a major resurfacing project on Interstate 90 just west of Spokane.

The freeway could be reduced to one lane during the construction from Geiger Boulevard to just west of the Four Lakes interchange, which serves Cheney.

Crews from Inland Asphalt Co., of Spokane, will grind down the existing pavement and then place a new layer of asphalt over the top in the $1.7 million project.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said the repair is needed in part because of damage caused by studded winter tires.

The agency has been trying to get drivers to abandon studs and switch to non-studded winter tires to reduce pavement damage, which is most noticeable on heavily traveled routes.

Vista Road delays

Spokane Valley drivers will have to slow down on Vista Road between Mission and Nora avenues where work is under way to prepare for a new layer of pavement. Flaggers will direct traffic through the work zone between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

During final paving, the road will be closed to all traffic for about 12 hours. Work should finish by Friday.

After that, work will shift to Fourth Avenue between Dishman-Mica and Farr roads. Traffic and parking will be restricted during that job.

Francis work update

Work on Francis Avenue from Freya to Havana streets should be completed this week. When finished, drivers will be on a five-lane configuration with two lanes in each direction and a center turn lane. In addition, the project has sidewalks, bike lanes and a planting strip that will also collect stormwater. The cost was $1.3 million and was financed by a state grant and local real estate excise taxes.

SIA airfare lower

If you are seeing lots of Canadian license plates coming and going from Spokane International Airport, there is a good reason.

A writer for the Calgary Herald last week told readers that she and a companion saved $3,000 on airfare by driving to Spokane for a flight to Washington, D.C. The savings was enough to offset the cost and time of driving and made it possible to stay in a five-star hotel in this nation’s capital.

Writer Paula Arab said 4.8 million Canadians came to the U.S. for flights last year. The higher cost of Canadian airfare was attributed to taxes and fees.


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