No cheap options for a new airport terminal exist Durango city councilors and La Plata County Commissioners learned Monday when weighing expansion plans.
The rough estimates for the three airport construction projects will all be greater than $60 million, said Dave Nafie, a consultant with Jviation.
To serve the needs of the 200,000 people currently departing from the airport each year, the terminal needs to double in size and expand parking options, Nafie said.
“We need to meet industry standards for the activity you are experiencing now,” he said.
Consultants presented a two-tiered approach for all three construction options. The first phase in all cases would meet current airport needs and projected growth for the next ten years. The second phase would be necessary when the airport grows to serve 400,000 people departing from the airport each year. The consultants project this could happen in the next 20 years if departures continue to grow at 3.5 percent.
All options accomplish the same goals. During the first phase, all construction would include an 110,800 square foot terminal, 400 more parking spaces, more tarmac for airplanes and a new entrance to the airport.
The parking system capacity is at failure today according to industry standards, and there is no room for commercial airplanes to be stored overnight, Nafie said.
In the second phase, the options include an expansion of terminal to 137,600 square feet and 900 more parking spaces.
The first option includes remodel of the terminal. It is estimated to cost $83 million in the first phase. In the second phase, the remodel option would cost an estimated $58 million, that would include $25 million for a parking structure.
The consultant presented second option, which would include total rebuild of the terminal next to the current structure. This option is estimated to cost $78 million in the first phase. If the terminal was expanded after the rebuild, it is estimated to cost $54 million, including the parking structure.
A parking structure would be necessary in the first option because the airport has limited land on the west side.
The third option would be to rebuild the terminal and all the necessary infrastructure on the east side of the runway. This is estimated to $114 million during the first phase. This would include a new taxiway, greater expenses to extend water lines and more money for earthwork.
However, the construction of a new terminal would be cheaper than renovating the old building. The second phase would cost $19 million, and it would be cheaper because a parking structure would not be necessary. This site would also allow the airport room to grow, the consultant said.
If a tax increase to fund the airport upgrades was placed on the ballot, it would cover only the first phase of any project.
Mayor Sweetie Marbury questioned what would be done if the tax issue didn’t pass.
“I have a lot of concerns about going through all this action, all this planning, and it fails. Then what?” she asked
In an interview, Aviation Director Kip Turner said if the airport didn’t keep up with the passengers’ needs, it would be a disincentive for airlines to serve this area.
“There’s a cost to doing nothing,” Turner said.
Others including Counselor Dean Brookie and Commissioner Julie Westendorff voiced more optimism and supported taking it to a vote.
It is likely the Federal Aviation Administration could contribute grant money for part of the project. But it is currently unknown how much money the airport could qualify for, Nafie said.
Councilors and commissioners likely will choose one of the alternatives before February. The consultant’s firm will finish financial planning in the winter and spring 2015 and the airport master plan by summer 2015.