Officials christened Durango-La Plata County Airport's new $19 million taxiway Thursday.
The project was one of several the airport scrambled to complete before the holiday season. A gradient problem on the
runway was repaired, the general aviation parking apron was rehabilitated and the terminal roadways were
The majority of the $18.9 million total came from a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport
Improvement Program. The remaining $1 million was paid from a fund raised by the $4.50 surcharge passengers pay on
Planes won't take off from or land on the taxiway. But it will aid in reducing the time aircraft spend waiting to take
off, or "exposed," as airport director Ron Dent described them.
He said the chances of a collision on the runway are minute, but extra precautions are helpful when bad weather reduces
"There's always that potential for conflict. The faster that we get the planes on the runway and off the runway, the
better," he said.
Aside from reducing passenger wait times on the runway and improving safety, the new taxiway will cut down on the fuel
idling planes waste while waiting, Dent said.
Enplanements are up at the airport 16 percent for October 2009 compared with 2008, and 6 percent overall for the year.
Dent attributed the rise to several factors, including an average 18 percent reduction in fares from 2008, expanded
service options from Frontier Airlines and a "coach share" between Continental and United.
After a busy season of construction, Dent said the full-strength airport will offer 600 seats to Denver every day and
100 to Phoenix.