Spokane International Airport last week announced it has received a $7 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to build a new aircraft rescue and firefighting facility.
The grant comes on top of a series of other FAA grants that will bump up construction work and land acquisition at the airport and Felts Field this year and for the next two years.
“We’ve done really well,” said Larry Krauter, airport director and CEO. “It’s a big year for us.”
He credited good planning and well-conceived grant applications for the airport’s success at getting the funds from a discretionary pool of money managed by the FAA. The funding comes from a ticket excise tax.
In the project to build a new airport fire station, the airport went through full architectural design and chose a contractor before submitting the plans and contract in the grant application.
Integrus Architecture and Lydig Construction, both of Spokane, were chosen for the job, which should get started in coming months.
“It’s been a great team effort,” Krauter said.
The airport will use $880,000 of its own funds in addition to the $7 million grant.
The 18,000-square-foot facility is being built to the southwest of Terminal C, where it will be visible to people arriving at the airport. The location was chosen, in part, to mesh with long-range plans for a third runway and a future relocated terminal.
Krauter said the location also puts firefighters closer to the existing airfield, reducing response times in case of an accident.
“It provides our firefighters with a state-of-the-art facility,” Krauter said, and it replaces an existing station that was built in 1978 northeast of terminals A and B.
“It will be a building that will be quite visible to the public,” he said.
The new station will have a system for reloading trucks with fire suppression foam. It will also provide better overnight accommodations for firefighters. The layout includes a larger physical fitness and training area, conference rooms and office space.
Along with the new fire station, the airport is in the midst of a $14 million rehabilitation and redesign of taxiways, including new higher-speed exits for arriving planes. That work will continue in 2014 and may not be finished until 2015, Krauter said.
Also, the airport received a $1.5 million grant to rehabilitate its ramps east of the Felts Field terminal as part of a complete renovation of the ramp system at Felts.
Another $1.6 million was received to reimburse the airport for purchase of three metal commercial buildings and property at the southwest end of the Felts runway. Those buildings have been removed.
People driving less
A new report from WashPIRG, a public interest research group, shows Washingtonians are driving less than they did in 2005.
The report said drivers are traveling 5.5 percent less than eight years ago.
Washington’s driving per person peaked in 1999 and has been falling ever since, the report said. However, population increases have brought more people to the road.
The decline in driving is part of a national trend. WashPIRG said 45 other states have seen reductions in per-person driving since the middle of the last decade.
“With driving on the downturn, we need to press the reset button on our transportation policy,” said Chris Esh, of WashPIRG.
“For decades, our state’s transportation investments overwhelmingly went to highway construction. But recent trends show that highway expansions are the wrong choice for Washington’s future,” Esh said in a news release.
Clark Williams-Derry, of the Sightline Institute, said the change means “trimming highway expansions while re-investing in the new growth areas in transportation: transit, walking, biking and new technologies.”
Young drivers, old cars
In another study, PEMCO Insurance said many parents are putting their children behind the wheel of older vehicles that do not have the safety features of newer automobiles.
A poll for PEMCO showed that one-third of respondents in the Pacific Northwest under age 55 said their first vehicle was more than 10 years old.
Eastern Washington respondents said their first car was an average of 9 years old.
“While older cars are often more affordable for parents and teens, our poll confirms the trend we suspected – parents opt for older and sometimes smaller cars for their teens when a newer car would be a safer option,” PEMCO spokesman Jon Osterberg said in a news release.
Just 4 percent of respondents between 35 and 54 years old said their first car had driver-side air bags, now considered a crucial safety feature in all automobiles.
The Highway Loss Data Institute reported that smaller vehicles that are often driven by new drivers are also more dangerous. The shorter wheel base is less forgiving in driving errors, the institute said.
In Spokane Valley, Eighth Avenue just east of Wilbur Court will be closed from 8 a.m. Tuesday through 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 for utility work.
Just in time for school
In Spokane, workers were expected to complete street projects on Perry Street adjacent to Gonzaga Prep and on 14th Avenue at Roosevelt Elementary School and have those streets open in time for classes.
STA on holiday schedule
Spokane Transit Authority buses will be running on a holiday schedule today, which is the same as Sunday service, with fewer buses and lower frequency.
Bruce Road closed
In Spokane County, Bruce Road from Stoneman to Day-Mount Spokane Road remains closed during road reconstruction. The best detour might be to the west on the North Spokane Corridor between Francis Avenue and U.S. Highway 2.
I-90 lane reductions
Interstate 90 from Four Lakes to Salnave Road will be reduced to one lane in each direction Tuesday through Thursday for crack sealing.