Locals’ party reopens Eagle County runway | VailDaily.com

Locals’ party reopens Eagle County runway

Katie Drucker
Eagle County, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyJason Decker races his custom chopper-style cruiser down the new Eagle airport runway in the cruiser division of the Romp the Runway bike race Wednesday in Gypsum.

=EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado –Hundreds of people took-off from the Eagle County Regional Airport runway, Wednesday. These people were not passengers, but they were racers participating in Romp the Runway festivities, a party to celebrate the airport reopening.

The airport has been closed since April 15 and will reopen Tuesday with a runway that is 1,000 feet longer and freshly paved. The refurbished runway made for a perfect race track for the sprint-style bike race and 5K fun run.

“It was smooth,” said Paul Hields, one of 90 bike race participants. “But I am convinced it is uphill.”

Nathan Cook, 10, and Jake Dippy, 9, were both ecstatic to race on the runway.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” they said in unison.

Charlie Baker did not participate in the running or biking races. However, he was still excited to be on the runway.

“This is a cool opportunity to be on the runway,” said Charlie Baker, of Eagle. “You usually can’t do this. It is way cool.”

The youngsters, less enamored about being on a runway, enjoyed climbing in and exploring the bulldozers, small planes, National Guard helicopters, and fire trucks present. Children also go to decorate the runway with chalk and painted miniature wooden airplanes.

“My little boy is loving it,” said Julie Hames.

For Judy Troup and John Whitlow, of Eagle, this party to celebrate the re-opening of the airport couldn’t have come soon enough.

“We were totally distressed the airport was closed,” said Troup.

The couple said they use the airport frequently and can’t wait for it to reopen. In fact, Whitlow and Troupe are driving to Denver to catch a flight to Florida but booked a return flight to the Eagle County Airport Sept. 6 from Florida.

“We are on one of the first flights coming in,” said Whitlow. “Traveling to the East Coast or to the Midwest, this airport is just perfect. It is very convenient.”

This summer’s construction marks the end of a five-year, $40 million airport construction project. The eastern half of the runway was resurfaced, the western half of the runway was re-built due to a rapid deterioration of asphalt because of water flow and three million yards of dirt was relocated to build an 1,000-foot extension.

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