YVRA expansion delayed

Airport officials prepare to apply for FAA grant in May

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Second-phase improvements to Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden may not be complete by the fall flight season, as airport officials had hoped.

The improvements, which will include a much-needed addition to the passenger holding area and expanded aircraft parking, will be funded primarily through grants from the Federal Aviation Administration.

YVRA needs a discretionary grant from the agency to begin preparing the new aircraft parking site for construction. The FAA doles out the grants three times a year, based on need.

"Unfortunately, we didn't make the first cut," said Ann Copeland, manager of terminal and land site operations.

Airport officials are fairly confident YVRA will receive the grant during the second round of applications in May. However, they cannot begin bidding for contractors until they know the airport will get the grant, Copeland said.

The third round for grant applications is in September.

Airport officials had planned to begin construction on phase two of the three-part airport expansion project in the spring.

"That was our aggressive timeline, if everything went perfect," Copeland said.

The second phase will add 23,500 square feet to the airport terminal, doubling the holding area for outgoing passengers and providing space for a new ticketing lobby and other improvements.

The second phase also will add bus lanes and staging areas and move the parking gate for Boeing 757 jets farther away from the runway to comply with FAA regulations.

Copeland said the discretionary grant situation leaves the airport with several options, including constructing the new aircraft ramp and parking gates this summer and waiting to expand the terminal until spring 2006.

The cramped holding area, which accommodates about 580 people -- about half the number of departing passengers on peak days -- is one of the biggest problems at the airport.

So airport officials also may consider building part of the terminal addition this summer to allow more holding room for passengers next fall and winter, she said.

Officials haven't completely ruled out trying to complete all phase-two improvements this summer, though the discretionary grant process will make that difficult, Copeland said.

"The thing we really want to make sure of is we don't go into jet season next fall in the middle of construction," she said.

-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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