Long-term growth trends at the Durango-La Plata County Airport show an expansion would help the facility keep up with its peers, a consultant said.
An ever-rising number of travelers at the airport show a need for a terminal of 74,000 square feet by 2025, which is nearly triple its current square footage, said Dave Nafie a planning manger for Jviation, a contracted consultant firm.
He presented data and survey information about community use and desires to Durango City Councilors and La Plata County Commissioners at meeting Tuesday night.
“We think that it makes sense to plan for a higher passenger load,” Nafie said.
The airport could fit inside both the Eagle County Regional Airport and Grand Junction Regional Airport. Yet, the area’s airport has surpassed Eagle County in number of travelers and has grown at a similar rate to the Grand Junction airport over the last decade. However, Grand Junction is still busier overall.
“Your peer group is using quite a bit larger facilities,” Nafie said.
In addition, targeted opinion polling on upgrading the airport shows a majority of community members and visitors favor improvements.
A planning advisory committee of about 50 community members – including a broad cross-section of business community, airport neighbors and the public – was polled.
A majority of these community members told the consulting firm they did not believe that maintaining the old facility with increased operation and maintenance costs was a good idea.
Results from about 50 in-person interviews with airport visitors conducted during July showed they would like to see shorter wait times for baggage, food service as well as more signs.
While the issue of cost was raised by several officials, others said the conversation about cost needs to wait until they have a better picture the best way to meet the needs.
“I think it’s way too early to talk about any kind of numbers,” Mayor Pro Tem Dean Brookie said.
In the planning process, the funding analysis is scheduled to take place in January.
Councilor Dick White said the terminal failed to stack up to similar facilities in Colorado.
“We are already behind what we need,” he said.
The airport is holding an open house from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Durango Community Recreation Center for community members to review current plans and to give input.
Tours of the airport that show where baggage goes are also held monthly. The next tour will be from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 2. Call 382-6052 to sign up.
An earlier version of this story gave a wrong phone number to sign up for the airport tour due to incorrect information given to the Herald.