Transportation without doubt is a key ingredient for a growing economy. Capacity, convenience, speed, reliability, cost, all are important factors. Knowing that, a longer runway for Pangborn Memorial Airport looks essential.
The long-awaited runway extension project now is turning up for takeoff. The port commissioners for Chelan and Douglas counties Wednesday voted to accept a $9.9 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, a first installment for what is expected to be a $30 million project. The FAA this spring already declared the runway project to be environmentally benign, bonds for the $3 million local match have closed and the first purchase agreements were signed with willing property owners in the project’s path.
All this is substantial progress in the enormously complex process of expanding an airport. The Pangborn Runway will be extended from 5,700 to 7,000 feet. Engineering and property acquisition will happen this year, road work in 2014, and runway construction in 2015.
Some doubt the necessity of this project, but not the port districts, or the FAA, or the industry analysts. The longer runway can be used by heavier aircraft in inclement weather, which means more full flights in winter, fewer canceled flights, higher reliability, consistent revenue for the airline, and better chance to expand commercial airline service in the future. And that means Wenatchee will be easier to get to, all year long. That helps business, industry and commerce.
For too long Wenatchee has had a reputation for being remote, and difficult to reach, especially in winter. That reputation is at least partly undeserved, but to attract investment and business it is important to dispel it. Pangborn’s reliability and level of service are key. This project must fly.
This is the opinion of The Wenatchee World and its Editorial Board: Publisher Rufus Woods, Editor Cal FitzSimmons and Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner.