Feds give $7.5M for Eagle County airport
EAGLE COUNTY – The plans are made, the bids received and now the money is in to pay for the first phase of a runway extension project at the Eagle County Regional Airport. The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the airport a $7.5 million grant to help pay for the $20 million project. Eagle County has been counting on the grant for a long time, said Commissioner Tom Stone.
“This has been in our master plan ever since I became a commissioner,” Stone said. Construction is expected to begin later this year. Extending the runway will allow the airport to have more airplane landings and take-offs.”This really is building for the future and for future new aircraft designs that will link regional routes,” Stone said.
Air traffic at airport set a record in 2004, with more than 193,000 travelers flying into and out of the facility. For the November-April winter season, traffic was up 8 percent over the same period last year, making it the second busiest ski season on record for the airport. The runway extension is just one of several improvements planned for the airport. Crews recently installed a new instrument landing system that will help pilots navigate a safe landing into the airport when visibility is poor. The airport also will receive a new, more powerful radar system next year that will allow planes to depart and arrive more frequently. Once all of these upgrades are in place, the county airport will be able to handle three times as much traffic as it currently does, airport officials said. New technology also will help decrease the number of times planes have to be diverted because of inclement weather. Those diversions cost the local economy an estimated $63 million, according to a study conducted in 2001-02. Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or email@example.com.