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Port of Warden to repair airport runway despite lack of state funds

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | July 24, 2022 1:47 PM

WARDEN — The Port of Warden is going to spend $22,000 to seal the cracks in its airport runway despite the refusal of the Washington State Department of Transport to award the port a grant for the project.

“If we’re going to have an airport, we need to take care of it,” said Commissioner Benjamin Leavitt during a regular meeting of the Port of Warden Commission on Thursday.

The Port of Warden maintains a small, single-runway airport just west of town and just south of S.R. 170. The airport is primarily used by crop dusters and general aviation pilots, including flight students at Big Bend Community College. Executive Director Pat Millard told commissioners the Department of Transportation declined to award the port a grant for the runway crack sealing because the port did not put the project on its six-year Capital Improvement Plan.

“They gave us a zero score,” she said. “You’ve got to follow the state’s guidelines (when you apply for grants).”

The port, however, has funds in its maintenance budget to do the crack sealing without state assistance, she said. Millard explained that the port last sealed the cracks in its roughly 2,800-foot-long runway in 2016.

“We do have to keep it in repair,” she said.

Pomeroy suggested the port could include in its Capital Improvement Plan a more permanent repair of the runway, such as an overlay or a resurface, and submit that for consideration to the state next year.

Commissioners also unanimously approved an application to the Federal Aviation Administration to change the runway take-off pattern. Currently, aircraft taking off southbound on the runway veer to the left and over the city of Warden, Millard said, while the application would alter the traffic pattern to the right and over farmland instead of over the city.

“That should take 60-90 days to approve,” Millard said.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

photo

CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

The roughly 2,800-foot-long runway of the Warden Airport, looking south. Currently, aircraft taking off in this direction veer to the left, over the growing city of Warden. However, port commissioners voted to submit an application to the Federal Aviation Administration to change the south-bound take-off pattern to the right, guiding aircraft over farmland instead.

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