First winter jets set to arrive

Construction at airport winding down for ski season

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With the arrival of the ski season's first jet flights just a week away, construction workers worked this week to finish Yampa Valley Regional Airport's parking and road systems.

"We need to put up a few more signs, but in general, it's ready to go," YVRA manager Dave Ruppel said. "It looks like the traffic flow will be effective. We're going to have a few challenges getting people used to the new system."

The improvements at the airport are part of a three-phase, four-year terminal expansion project. When complete, the airport 21 miles west of Steamboat Springs will offer expanded passenger check-in, baggage claim and waiting areas and improved access to concessions. The realignment of the airport access road will streamline access to the terminal and also will allow increased parking for the larger Boeing 757 jets that land at YVRA during ski season.

County Manager Tom Sullivan said crews from Connell Resources poured a first round of asphalt this fall, and the new roads can be used this winter. The parking lot, which will offer 485 spaces, has been paved, but the concrete sidewalks around the lot have not been poured. Instead, passengers arriving at the airport by private vehicles will be asked this winter to use temporary walkways across the edge of the lot.

The parking lot will include a gate system through which people entering the lot will be issued a ticket. Upon leaving the airport, people will have the option to pay with a credit card at the gate or pay by credit card or cash inside the terminal.

Ruppel said the arms on the gate would be installed this week.

With the new system comes increased parking fees. Daily fees have increased from $3 a day to $6 a day (vehicles parked less than 6 hours a day will be charged less).

In exchange for the higher fees, air travelers will enjoy a well-lit lot, Ruppel said. The parking lot is likely to have less effect on arriving ski vacationers than on passengers from the Yampa Valley. Most winter vacationers rely on commercial taxis and airport shuttles for their transportation.

-- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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