Eagle County breaks ground on $33 million airport terminal expansion project | VailDaily.com

Eagle County breaks ground on $33 million airport terminal expansion project

Eagle County officials toss shovels of dirt for the $33 million airport terminal expansion project. Shown, from left to right, are Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll, Commissioner Jill Ryan, Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry, Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney, Eagle County Aviation Director Kip Turner and Eagle County Attorney Bryan Treu.

GYPSUM — On Tuesday, April 10, Eagle County officials celebrated ground-breaking for a 50,000-square-foot terminal expansion at the county airport.

The 20-month project is slated to open by November 2019 and will include expanded hold rooms, a reconfigured Transportation Security Administration checkpoint area, enhanced concessions and the addition of passenger jet loading bridges to four of six new gates.

"This $33 million project will be completely funded with airport revenues, not tax dollars," said Kip Turner, aviation director for Eagle County. "This project focuses on the departure/arrival gate section of the terminal and will add more gate capacity to better accommodate the passenger experience at (the airport)."

Turning noted the current footprint at the airport features five ground-loading gates. After the expansion, in addition to the four-gate jet bridge, two ground loading gates will remain.

The terminal expansion project also will set the stage for implementation of modern-day, common-use technology at the new gates, according to Turner. These improvements will enhance the efficiency of the airlines' operations by allowing them to schedule gates as required, based on their operational needs during peak times.

Construction impact

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The airport will remain open throughout the terminal construction. That's good news for local communities affected by the facility.

According to Turner, the Eagle County Regional Airport contributes more than $635 million to the valley's economy every year, with visitors arriving by air contributing approximately $476 million of that amount.

"During the 'pardon our dust' terminal expansion project, temporary hold facilities will allow for the same square footage the airport has today," Turner said. "The airport will function as normal during all times of the project, offering the same number of gates and similar amenities, including concessions and ground transportation needs."

The payoff next year will be well worth inconveniences in 2018, Turner said. For example, the new consolidated concessions and bar area will adjoin a fireplace overlooking the mountain view visible from most of the terminal windows.

"The Eagle County Regional Airport is the gateway to the Vail Valley from all over the world. It is the first and last impression many folks visiting this region will carry home with them," Turner said. "Once the terminal renovation and expansion is complete in November of 2019, visitors and routine passengers alike using (the airport) will enjoy the improved customer experience."