The Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority is moving ahead with the construction of a new runway lighting system at Pangborn Memorial Airport.

The hardware is known as a Medium-intensity Approach Lighting System with Runway alignment indicator lights (MALSR), which provides pilots with greater visibility during inclement weather.

Port CEO Jim Kuntz says the system is expected to have a dramatic impact.

“For Pangborn it is a game-changer,” said Kuntz. “It (MALSR) takes it from a mile visibility during the fog all the way down to a half-mile. The analysis we’ve done on our missed flights is we think this is a 60-percent improvement in commercial air service reliability in the wintertime.”

The Port received only one bid for the project, which came in over 75 percent above an engineering study’s estimate.

However, Port commissioners voted not to send the highly-specialized project back to the bidding process, siting the possibility of even higher bids, as well as the critical need for  the work to get done as soon as possible.

“This has been a top-priority project,” explained Kuntz. Unfortunately, I don’t think it gets cheaper next year if we wait. I think it’s time to bite the bullet. But for the tax payers it is a $5.8 million project.”

The contract was awarded to Colvico (COAL-vee-ko), Inc. of Spokane for $2.9 million.

Approximately $2.2 million of the project is expected to receive reimbursement from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Construction on the MALSR is slated to begin next month and be completed by early fall.​