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Federal grant to fund resurfacing at airport

Passengers walk near a large crack in the Eagle County Regional Airport's concrete apron on in Gypsum on Wednesday. The commercial apron was originally constructed in the late 1980s and 1990s, and is nearing the end of its life.
Anthony Thornton | athornton@vaildaily.com |

EAGLE — Airports are a hole in the sky through which money falls, and $8.53 million just fell on the Eagle County Regional Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration gave the airport $8,532,153 to resurface the runway apron — the big concrete area where commercial aircraft park adjacent to the airport terminal gates.

Work should begin next spring, said Greg Phillips, airport manager.

The commercial apron was originally constructed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and it is nearing the end of its life. Some places in the concrete are beginning to show their age after two decades of wear.

“It’s not a safety hazard, but it’s becoming more maintenance intensive, and we’re spending enough that the FAA is prepared to fund replacing it,” Phillips said.

FOLLOWING THE MONEY

This grant is from FAA’s end-of-the-year money, as the federal agency closes out its fiscal year.

The FAA notified the county last Tuesday that the money was available and that the county had one week to decide whether it was ready to accept it.

It was. Here’s why.

To resurface the entire apron will cost $17 million, and the county started planning it in 2011.

Because $17 million is a lot of money even for the FAA, the county broke the project into three phases.

Earlier this summer, the county started collecting bids for the work. Construction costs came in at $15.8 million for the work, and $17 million when design work and other preliminary work is added.

Bidders were made to understand that work would not begin until the FAA came up with a grant, Phillips said.

“We didn’t know if we’d get $1 million or the whole $17 million,” Phillips said.

The $8,532,153 is a federal matching grant. The county had to commit to cover 10 percent, or $853,215.

READY TO GO

The airport got the money because the project was already designed and ready to go. If the county had not been ready, the money would have gone somewhere else that was.

The county will ask the Colorado Department of Transportation to split its share with them, which Phillips said they anticipate will happen next year.

“They know the urgency and it will not hit them out of the blue. They’ll likely cycle it into next year’s budget,” Phillips said.

For now, the county’s airport fund will pay that full $853,215. the Department of Transportation could kick in up to half that, Phillips said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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