Expanding Horizons at Durango-La Plata Airport

On a windy afternoon in late April, locals gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony for phase one of Durango-La Plata Airport’s expansion plan. Accompanied by representatives from Dibble Corporation, airport executives and employees celebrated the start of a multi-phase operation to enable the regional airport to continue to provide service to the Four Corners region. You’re watching the Local News Network brought to you by Tafoya Barrett and Associates and Happy Pappy’s Pizza and Wings. I’m Connor Shreve.

Dibble is a multi-division of civil engineering. I’m with the airport development group out of Denver, Colorado, and we’ve been contracted with the airport, over the last five years, to help enable all of their projects, all of their plans, how to get things from concept to construction.

Dibble Corporation, along with Mead & Hunt, a non-construction, are part of the team developing and executing the expansion plan of Durango-La Plata Airport. Ans since the structure was constructed in 1988, the number of passenger traffic is now 120% higher than it was then. To date, the only substantial changes to the facility were adding the temporary structure, adding approximately 4,500 square feet, in the terminal area in 2013, and a renovation and expansion of airport offices and baggage screening operations in 2019.

We need to make sure that our facilities can manage those peaks, and keep us in position to compete for air service, which is very competitive nationwide. There’s a lot of demand for air service out of a lot of communities across the country, and everyone wants that in their community. Everyone wants more flights, more routes, more access because it creates economic impact and opportunities in the community. But it’s competitive. There’s a lot of opportunity, and the supply can be restricted at times. And so we need to make sure that our facilities are accommodating all types of air traffic and the evolutions we see there so that we’re continuing to maintain what we have today, which is a vibrant airport that serves Southwest Colorado.

The groundbreaking ceremony on April 25th marked the beginning of phase one of a project that will add an additional airline boarding gate and seating area to meet the ever-growing and ever-changing airline fleet. Add new and expanded public restrooms, as well as family restrooms, and nursing room. Additionally, the expansion will enable the airport to meet full ADA requirements and improve service levels. Add concessions at a new Gate 1, among other technological and electrical improvements.

Phase 1-A is anticipated to be a little over a year in overall construction. We’re obviously breaking ground today. We look to potentially commission those new facilities in very early 2024, with some interior renovations to wrap up that project, and hopefully be wrapped up in the first quarter of 2024. And then, as the teaser for everyone who’s been following the project, this isn’t the end, we have another phase of construction we call Phase 1-B coming on the heels of this, that we anticipate to hopefully start as early as summer 2024, and be completed sometime in 2026, which will provide an all-new platform for airline operations here in the Durango area.

While the construction of the addition is a major signal of changes to come to the regional airport, upgrades and updates have already begun.

So we’ve had the runway reconstructed, we’ve had the taxi reconstructed. We’ve improved all the general aviation pavements on the north and the south. Now we’re working on their terminal, which is going to be a multi-year program of trying to get those funds coming in place in timely manner, keep this construction going.

You know, a lot of people ask about the funding, I think that’s an important one to cover. On that, so, you know, here in Phase 1-A, it’s a 7 million project. About 5 million of that is grants available through the FAA for infrastructure projects here at airports nationwide, and in this case, here in Durango. And then, the preponderance, about $2 million is being paid out of airport cash reserves. It’s important for folks to know the airport operates as an enterprise fund, which means that it is, although we are co-owned by the city of Durango and La Plata County in our governmental entity, we don’t utilize any local tax dollars at the airport. There’s no property tax or sales tax that’s used for daily operations or capital projects here at the airport.

Additional sources of revenue and funding will enable the second phase of the project, currently in the design stage, which will include additional expansions to the boarding area, more space at baggage claim, among other improvements. Find information about the proposed plans, updates on the project, and general information online. Learn more about this and other stories at durangolocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I’m Connor Shreve.

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