County plans for YVRA work |

County plans for YVRA work

Airport’s phase 3 expansion would complete baggage carousel

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners are expected to give their unanimous support today to a federal grant application that would lead to the completion of a second baggage carousel at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in time for the 2010-11 ski season.

The new carousel would come as part of the multi-year, $6.83-million phase 3 expansion of the airport terminal. The 2010 budget for the project, including the new baggage belt, is less than $4 million.

"As the community looked at the facility six or seven years ago, there were two main areas of concern," YVRA Manager Dave Ruppel said Monday. "The first was a new ticketing area, which was completed in phase 2. The second was expanding the baggage claim area. Finally, that last piece of the puzzle will tie things together."

Ruppel said earlier this winter that the luggage claim area at the airport is his staff's biggest challenge on the passenger service side of the operation. On busy Saturdays, passengers disembarking from closely timed flights pile up in front of the single baggage carousel.

The new carousel would be devoted primarily to smaller aircraft serving shorter routes to and from Denver and Salt Lake City, Ruppel said. The new carousel also could receive luggage from the larger aircraft.

The entire phase 3 expansion would not be tackled this year, Ruppel said, leaving the construction of second-story offices and a conference room for 2011.

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The Federal Aviation Admin­i­stration has been anticipating the county's grant request for several years, Ruppel said, and he expressed confidence that the funds are in place for the first year of the project.

"I expect to receive approximately $3.1 million in (grants) toward the 2010 portion of the project, which is budgeted at $3.63 million depending upon how the phasing works out," Ruppel wrote in a memo to the commissioners.

He's also confident of a $250,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Tran­sportation funded by state aviation fuel taxes that are dedicated to airport improvements.

The county would take on a 5 percent match of the federal grant — about $341,750 for the full multi-year project. Unlike in the past, the commissioners will not have to underwrite the grant match from sales tax revenues; airport receipts from landing fees and concessions such as car rentals are sufficient to make the match, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

"The airport is now self-sufficient," she said.

In the past, she said, support for the airport claimed up to 24 percent of the county's overall sales tax revenues.

Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said the airport has grown to support much more than the resort economy, providing advantages for a variety of business through both general and commercial aviation.

Ruppel said he hopes to be able to advertise for bids from general contractors by March.