Airport projects gearing up

Feds putting up 90 percent of funding

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— Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manager Jim Parker said this week he's within one to two weeks of issuing bid documents for the first of a pair of airport improvement projects totaling more than $2 million.

Of the total cost, 90 percent will be covered by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, Parker said. The remaining 10 percent, approximately $200,000, constitutes Routt County's match, and is included in the 2001 budget for the airport near Hayden.

The first of the two projects will rehabilitate and pave the taxiway commercial jets take between the runway and the parking apron, Parker said. The second would build a new taxiway opening up a new area for airport hangar development.

Parker told the commissioners he is getting feelers from entities interested in developing the new corporate and executive hangars.

"What comes first here?" Commissioner Doug Monger asked. Does the county provide the infrastructure, hoping private developers will build the hangars, or do the developers submit hard proposals before the county invests in infrastructure?

Parker assured Monger that the county will go no further than building the taxiway until it has contracts with hangar developers.

"We want somebody to come in and put their John Hancock on the line before we spend $1 million down there," Parker said. "Right now we're only in the planning stages."

The new hangars would house private aircraft and generate fees for the county.

Parker said he has received three or four letters from individual aircraft owners wishing to build their own hangars, and several more from developers interested in building the hangars.

One likely occupant of the new hangar area is Spectrum Jet Center, which currently operates hangars and sells aviation fuel at the airport.

"Spectrum has no room for growth where they are," Parker said. "It's logical for them to expand. It's going to require some negotiation."

Spectrum operates as the "fixed base operator," or FBO at the airport, selling fuel to general aviation aircraft and pumping fuel to the commercial jets on behalf of the fuel distributor.

Spectrum owns two hangars at YVRA, but there are only a half-dozen private aircraft based there permanently.

Tentatively, $810,000 has been targeted for the taxiway rehabilitation project and $1.17 million for the new general aviation taxiway. However, county accounting manager Margot Gasch said the main taxiway rehabilitation has been given the highest priority and the bulk of the funds are likely go to that project, with the balance invested in the new access.

Parker said the taxiway rehabilitation will probably begin in July. Work that must be done close to the main runway would be undertaken in the evening hours, minimizing the impact on regularly scheduled United Express flights.

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