County gets $1.5M
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs, or DOLA, has awarded Routt County a $1.5 million grant for road improvements. Routt County commissioners said the funds will be used for embankment stabilization and other improvements to Routt County Road 27 between Oak Creek and Hayden, and for the completion of re-asphalting on Routt County Road 33 southwest of Steamboat Springs.
The energy impact grant is funded by state severance tax proceeds, designed to help communities mitigate the impacts of energy development. Routt County also received a $1.5 million energy impact grant from DOLA in the spring of 2006.
The new terminal at Yampa Valley Regional Airport, new Routt County Justice Center and reconstruction of Routt County Road 27 are a large part of record-setting construction spending by Routt County.
Steamboat Springs The estimated time of arrival was off, but the new terminal at Yampa Valley Regional Airport may soon be ready to open its doors.
"We should be pretty much completed by Feb. 12. We're hoping to be up and running by then," said Ann Copeland, manager of terminal and land-side operations at the
Copeland said the new terminal will feature expanded gate areas for passengers checking onto flights, a full-service restaurant and bar, a snack bar in the gate area, a gift shop, a heated curbside check-in area, electronic flight-information screens and a brand-new ticketing lobby. Completion of the 23,500-square-foot terminal, the second of three phases of airport renovations that began in 2003, would be the crowning achievement for a facility that has recently seen several significant upgrades.
A Feb. 12 opening of the $16 million terminal would be well after the intended Dec. 15 opening date, but just in time for the busy Presidents Day weekend.
"We've been waiting eight years for this new terminal, and while it would have been ideal to have it open by mid-December, a couple weeks here and there is worth it," said Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. "In my estimation, this terminal is the single most important facility improvement for the airport since we lengthened the runway in the mid-1980s. This is the airport terminal that this valley has deserved for decades."
Wirth said Ski Corp. received "very few customer complaints" about hassles or delays resulting from terminal construction, which Copeland said required the coordination of numerous contractors, subcontractors, staff and projects.
"It has been kind of this ongoing song-and-dance," Copeland said. "It has been a real challenge to keep everything on schedule, because we have so many players that we're trying to coordinate."
The delays could have been worse.
Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said Thursday that "had the opening been too late, I think some of the airlines would have waited until the end of the season" to move into the new terminal.
"March is one of our heaviest arrival and departure times, so having it done for the month of March will be key," Evans Hall said.
"We're very excited to have this happen."
Big walls to fill
Evans Hall said Nancy Kramer, former executive director of the Steamboat Springs Art Council, is chairwoman of a committee that will place artwork and historic displays in the new terminal.
"We'll have a lot of big, blank white walls out there," Evans Hall said.
"We're doubling the size of our terminal," she said. "And we're the first airport in the nation to have Reveal CT-80 X-ray machines hooked to the baggage belts. That's a huge behind-the-scenes improvement - it will definitely make our process faster."
The Transportation Security Administration, part of the federal Department of Homeland Security, funded the $350,000 baggage-screening machines. The machines will enable airport staff to screen 150 to 200 bags per hour, compared to the current rate of 30 or 40 bags per hour.
Funding the terminal is part of a collaborative effort that includes $6.7 million in federal funding, grants from the Colorado Department of Transportation and contributions from area municipalities including Steamboat Springs and Hayden.
In the past year, the airport has installed a new pay-parking system, improved aprons for taxiing airplanes and secured funding for new electronic airplane surveillance equipment that will improve aircraft detection and traffic efficiency.
"We've had a lot of projects going on and a lot of good things happening," Copeland said.
The airport serviced more than 144,000 passengers in 2006, which Copeland - who has worked at the airport for 20 years - said is its highest number of passengers to date.
Copeland said the third phase of airport renovations, "in about 2009," will convert the current terminal to a baggage claim area that will be three times larger than the current baggage claim.
"We're going to be a real airport," Copeland said. "We're definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and I don't think it's a train."
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