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Commissioners Adopt New Airport Master Plan

Construction began in October on a new parallel taxiway at the Fremont County Airport. The taxiway is a safety alternative to the county's desire to have a longer runway at the airport someday.

Adoption of an update to the Fremont County Airport’s Master Plan highlighted a short agenda of business for the Fremont County Board of Commissioners at their October 22nd regular meeting.  An update of the airport’s Master Plan was a prerequisite to the county securing $1.7 million in grant funds from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier this summer to construct a parallel taxiway.

While the Airport Master Plan projects what type of growth might be expected at the airport over the next 20 years and the impacts the airport might experience, District 3 Commissioner Ed Norden said citizens may find the Master Plan to be interesting reading if the airport would ever be able to develop a longer runway to handle larger jet planes.   Commissioner Norden said a proposal outlined by Armstrong Consultants of Grand Junction in the Master Plan suggests that a new and longer runway could be built atop a long ridge to the southeast of the existing airport which is now private property.

Norden said Armstrong’s airport planners proposed that it would be far less costly to build a new runway to the southeast rather than trying to haul in two million cubic yards of dirt to extend the existing runway to the east.   The cost for the runway extension could approach $30 million compared to perhaps $10-$15 million for a new and longer runway.

Norden noted that when he came into office in 2005 the county was in line to receive $9 million from the FAA for the runway extension that was to be completed in 2009.   Norden said that when the project continued to be delayed the FAA then changed their emphasis regarding general aviation airports like the Fremont County Airport.   Norden said instead of allowing Fremont County to weigh the economic development benefits of a longer runway, the FAA shifted its focus to safety improvements.   Norden said the result is that the FAA emphasized the need for a full length parallel taxiway at the Fremont County Airport as a safety feature instead of a runway extension.

The parallel taxiway is now under construction at the airport after the Board of Commissioners approved a bid award to Rocky Mountain Materials in August for $1,736,000.     95 percent of the project cost will be paid for by the FAA and another 2 ½ percent will be paid for by the Colorado Division of Aeronautics.   The Commissioners and Airport Manager Richard Baker are now hopeful that enough good weather days remain this fall to construct the new asphalt taxiway surface.

In the only other item of business at the Commissioners’ October 22nd meeting, the Board formally appointed Cañon City Councilman Dennis Weid to be the City of Cañon City’s representative on the Fremont County Planning Commission.    Weid replaces Darrel Robinson who left the Planning Commission after resigning his council seat last summer to move to Iowa.