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Friday Harbor Airport fuels 'major' reconstruction with $3.3 M in federal funds

A pair of military Chinook helicopters were one of the more visitors to Friday Harbor Airport, dispatched to the islands as part of a June 13 statewide disaster preparedness drill.  - Scott Rasmussen
A pair of military Chinook helicopters were one of the more visitors to Friday Harbor Airport, dispatched to the islands as part of a June 13 statewide disaster preparedness drill.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

With $3.3 million of federal money in the bank, the Port of Friday Harbor will begin major reconstruction of the airport taxiway starting in late July.

The backbone of the project will be to first demolish and then relocate "Taxiway A" roughly six feet to west in order to accommodate airplanes with greater wingspan. Airport Manager David Ryan said the project will include installation of additional safety features, such as LED lighting, and   improvement of the airport's stormwater drainage system as well.

"There's quite a bit of stuff that will make airport operations more efficient and safer," Ryan said.

To help finance the project, the Port is slated to receive $3.3 million in Federal Aviation Administration grant money, which is expected to cover roughly 90 percent of the project cost. As part of grant, the port must contribute a 10-percent match of FAA funds and will pursue a state Department of Transportation grant to cover a portion of those matching funds.

Congressman Rick Larsen, D-Everett, a member of the House Transportation and the Infrastructure Committee, which oversees FAA spending, cited the economic benefits that the $3.3 million grant will deliver by helping to finance the construction project and "modernize" the airport.

“This investment in the Friday Harbor Airport will create jobs and help keep San Juan residents connected,” Larsen said in a prepared statement. “Smart investments in our transportation infrastructure like this create jobs, improve safety, and provide the base for future economic growth.”

Ryan notes the port qualifies for $1 million in annual FAA grants because of the airport’s annual number of so-called "im-planements", meaning the number of landings and take-offs, totaling roughly 10,000 a year. The grant will include roughly $2 million in FAA money that the port would have received in the past couple of years, but instead "banked" with the reconstruction project in mind.

The project is anticipated to cost just over $3.6 million into total. It drew bids form three companies. The port commission awarded the contract June 13 to Sedro Wooley-based Trimaxx, which submitted the lowest bid of the three.

Construction is slated to get under way in late July, which coincides not only with the airport's busiest season of the year, but will come on the heels of the airport's third annual Fly-In and Open House celebration, on July 23. The project is expected to be completed by the end of September, Ryan said.

"It's going to be a busy, busy summer at the airport," he said.

 

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