New report shows Washington airport pavements need repair funding

SEATTLE - A new report shows the state’s airport pavements need some attention financially to provide much needed repairs and maintenance.

WSDOT’s aviation division looked at 98 airports in our state, and according to the recently released 2018 Airport Pavement Management System (APMS) report, pavement conditions at Washington state airports have steadily deteriorated since 2005.

Pavement is one of the most important parts of an airport’s infrastructure. According to a new report the state’s overall rating on a scale of zero to 100 is 77, with zero being the worst and 100 the best.

The findings showed about 74 percent of the total pavement area, excluding SeaTac, Spokane and Tri-Cities airports, would benefit from routine and preventative maintenance and about 26 percent of the pavement needs major rehabilitation or reconstruction work.

The worst airport, “Storm Field,” in Morton was rated the lowest at five.

SeaTac, the state’s largest airport, had a rating of 89.

“We’re not in a state of jeopardy right now, but it’s definitely a cause to be concerned that if we continue on this trajectory that we’ll be in a bad spot and the costs are going to go up significantly,” said Eric Johnson, construction & grants program manager for WSDOT Aviation.

WSDOT updates the APMS every three to five years to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the overall pavement area and pavement condition for state airports.

Approximately $395.4 million is needed over the next seven years to fund all recommended pavement maintenance and rehabilitation projects at the airports, excluding SeaTac, Spokane and the Tri-Cities.

“From a safety perspective, pavement distress such as cracks may pose a safety risk for aircraft tire damage and the ability for a pilot to safely control an aircraft,” said Johnson.

Johnson says without the funding needed, the pavements will get worse and cost more over time.

He added there are a number of factors that go into maintaining pavement and how quickly it deteriorates. Airport location is one of them. Johnson says airports in places like Eastern Washington that tend to have more extreme temperatures affects the pavement, whereas coastal airports tend not to need a lot of maintenance.

He said House Bill 1457 could allocate funding toward the approximately $395 million needed. WSDOT and the Federal Aviation Administration use APMS data to prioritize state and federal funding for airport projects.