Derek Franz

Back to: News
May 9, 2012
Follow News

Improvements are coming at the airport

The airport dominated conversation at a meeting between Eagle County commissioners, county staff members and Gypsum staff and council members on Tuesday.

The Eagle County Regional Airport's aviation director, Greg Phillips, said business there is down a bit, about 6.6 percent, after a season of less than spectacular ski conditions and higher fuel prices - which raise ticket prices - but the airport is still poised to grow.

The county airport, referred to as EGE in aviation speak, has been the subject of a 20-year master plan update that is nearing completion and real work is about to begin.

"We're working to bring in new airlines, I met with five a couple week ago," Phillips said regarding plans to expand service and possibly go international.

In the meantime, to prepare for that kind of increased business, a $6 million project is getting started to move the baggage-handling system to an area outside the main terminal.

"The system that's in the terminal now will sort of be moved behind the magic wall," Phillips said. "The cost is being covered almost entirely by grants and it will be ready by mid-December after test phases around October."

The security checkpoint is also being expanded and updated with the latest equipment this summer. The checkpoint currently has two and a half lanes and will have four.

"We're also getting the latest equivalent of a full-body scanner," Phillips said. "With this one, a person's body is portrayed as a generic stick figure and a red dot shows up wherever there is an anomaly."

The first body scanners were controversial because a person's specific anatomy was visible on a screen.

"Those are the big ones, in addition to a concrete ramp we're replacing over four years, but there are more than 40 projects we're working on," Phillips said.

The concrete ramp replacement is a more than $20 million project.

Landscaping is another EGE concern, Phillips said. That issue is one Gypsum is very interested in and everyone at the meeting agreed it's important to consider visitors' first impressions when they get off the plane.

"When people land, they get out and their vacation begins right then, and it should feel like it and look like it," Phillips said.

No specific landscape plans were mentioned except priorities of making something that will look good year round and feature something that might not have to be watered, such as a rock or metal sculpture.

Trails and open space projects were briefly covered at the meeting as well. Work on the second phase of the ECO Trail, heading west between Gypsum and Dotsero, is in the plans along with an Aug. 1 opening date for the new Dotsero boat ramp.

Stories you may be interested in

The VailDaily Updated May 9, 2012 01:49PM Published May 9, 2012 01:48PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.