$3.2M expansion project at Yampa Valley Regional Airport gets final approval
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A $3.2 million project to expand the Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden gained final approval during the Routt County Board of Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday.
Much of the money — 95% — is coming from federal and state funding sources, according to online county documents. This includes about $3.1 million in federal grants and $162,000 from the Colorado Department of Transportation. The airport will provide the remaining 5%, or $162,000, to finance the project.
Commissioners approved an additional $100,000 to complete necessary work on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the administration offices at the airport, which will be funded using airport reserves.
The new space is meant to reduce congestion, increase capacity and improve the flow of travelers getting to their planes, according to Airport Manager Kevin Booth. The project also will add a seventh gate to the terminal, allowing an additional airline to operate there, which could increase airplane traffic and bring economic benefits to the area.
Commissioner Beth Melton described an airport as a major way to support the economies of rural communities like Steamboat Springs. She referenced a 2015 report that showed rural areas with daily, commercial airline service tended to see faster growth, less income volatility and a more educated workforce than more isolated communities.
“There is demonstrated, positive impact to a rural area when you are able to move people in and out efficiently,” Melton said.
Last year, more than 87,000 passengers arrived at the airport and spent roughly $117 million in and around Steamboat, according to a report from the Local Marketing District, which oversees the city’s commercial air program.
Construction on the terminal expansion is slated to begin May 1, according to Booth. The goal is to finish construction before next year’s winter season.
Officials had hoped to break ground on the project this summer, but they had problems negotiating a price with the sole contractor that placed a bid. The county eventually was able to negotiate a lower price with the contractor, Grand Junction-based FCI Constructors, according to Booth.
FCI has completed construction projects at two Colorado airports, according to the company’s website. Those include the Denver International Airport and the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. Such experience proves useful when working with the Federal Aviation Administration, which enforces strict rules on construction companies, Booth said.
He hopes the expansion reduces congestion, which a 2017 report identified as one of the main problems during peak periods in the winter and summer. Congestion was particularly problematic on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Those are the airport’s busiest days, Booth said, when an average of 2,000 people pass daily through the terminal.
In addition to reducing congestion, he said the expansion will add six more indoor check-in booths, allowing passengers to get to their flights faster and, hopefully, alleviating some of the stress of airplane travel.
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Sales tax collections in the city of Steamboat Springs during the first five months of 2021 were nearly 20% more than the same period last year, according to a report recently released by the city.