Airport project timeline pushed back, as officials wait for federal grant

Big changes and brand new facilities are planned for Grand Junction Regional Airport, but the first phase of construction can’t happen until $1.4 million in promised federal funds becomes available.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., announced the sizable Federal Aviation Administration grant in June, which is planned to fund construction of a new three-story administration building at the airport. At the time, airport officials said they hoped to begin construction by the end of this year.

Grand Junction’s FAA grant, however, comes from a discretionary pot of federal funds, and has yet to be allocated, forcing airport officials to amend their timeline.

“We were expecting to have a final grant on this. So since we are still waiting for the grant, it’s getting pushed back at least three months, if not further,” said Amy Jordan, deputy director of administration for the airport.

Mesa County commissioners signed off on a draft co-sponsorship of the grant agreement on Monday, a procedural step that paves the way for eventual receipt of the money when it becomes available. The city of Grand Junction also is required to sign a co-sponsorship agreement and will take up the item at its meeting on Aug. 15, Jordan said.

The $1.4 million FAA grant isn’t the only source of funding for the massive rebuild planned for the airport. The airport itself is promising $1.2 million, and the state Division of Aeronautics is funding $800,000 that will go toward a new fire station as part of the project.

The improvement project at the airport is a pricey one. A study commissioned last year concluded that it would cost more than $1.2 million to bring the existing terminal up to code, and another $4.3 million for general repairs and upgrades. The current terminal building opened in 1982.

One project is getting the immediate go-ahead at the airport: $700,000 for a new aircraft rescue firefighting vehicle.

Federal regulations require the airport to provide its own primary firefighting response, and one of the two current vehicles used for emergency response was acquired in 1988. Life expectancy for these types of vehicles is normally 10 to 12 years, so the 24-year-old Oshkosh T-1500 is set for replacement.

Jordan said they’ve already gone through the bid process, receiving two bids, and the contract for a new vehicle has been awarded to Oshkosh.

The older model T-1500 will be retired, and plans are to sell it to another airport that either does not currently have firefighting equipment or is in the market for a second vehicle.



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