County hopes to start YVRA 2nd phase

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Routt County officials hope to begin the second phase of improvements to Yampa Valley Regional Airport this summer.

With the go-ahead from the Federal Aviation Admin-istration, the county is advertising for bids to improve and build aprons, parking areas and roadways.

The county still is waiting to learn whether the FAA will award $5 million in discretionary funds for this year's project and additional work.

The county should know by the end of May whether those funds will be granted, Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said.

Funds from local matches will be added to that $5 million, he said.

FAA officials recently said the county could begin planning for the improvements. That way, when the $5 million is granted as expected, the county can get to work. If for some reason the funds aren't granted, the county won't have spent any money, Sullivan said.

"We still need the funds, but at least we've got the go-ahead to move ahead with this," Sullivan said.

Starting the construction in mid-July will let workers finish with construction outside of the airport's secured area by mid-November, when plane traffic picks up greatly. Next year, work to the inside restricted area will be finished.

YVRA expects to receive about $9.4 million in FAA entitlement funds and some local matches. The FAA entitlement funds are federal dollars from passenger fees that already are earmarked for YVRA, Sullivan said.

Those funds will go toward expanding the terminal at YVRA, which will begin in April 2006 and end by that winter.

"This is really exciting to see the FAA supporting YVRA and Routt County and the whole Northwest Colorado region by approving the funding for these upgrades," Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison said. "I think it shows definitely ... it's here for the long term and is well needed."

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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