Airport work winds down

Chris Wright, backed by his landscaping crew, shows some of the approximately 9,000 mums and other flowers they have planted during a two-year renovation project at Grand Junction Regional Airport. In back are, from left, Matt Powers, Josh Casmer, Tim Burke and Jimmy Ruiz.

The finishing touches are coming for the $20 million renovation project at Grand Junction Regional Airport.

In the past two years, the airport has replaced Walker Field signs with ones brandishing its new name, put in thousands of flowers and other landscaping details, installed roundabouts, and reconfigured the parking lot. The airport opened a Subway restaurant and added two flight destinations: Dallas and Los Angeles.

Renovation work related to the $20 million project will “pretty much come to an end this fall,” Airport Manager Rex Tippetts said. The last bit of work associated with the two-year project will be done around the roundabout at H Road and Walker Field Drive.

For the long term, remodeling and expansion at the airport will not end but rather slow after this year, Tippetts said.

“We have plans for a lot of the areas we have not touched. It’s more of a five- to 10-year plan, though,” he said.

Tippetts said the airport “has changed quickly.” One of the most noticeable changes for the public is the landscaping, which was helped by Chris Wright, the two-year airport landscape supervisor, who has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Missouri State University. Wright and his crew have planted about 4,000 tulips and 5,000 annuals that were grown at local nurseries.

“There’s 35 acres out front, so it’s spread out quite a bit,” Tippetts said.

The airport also has replaced all paved surfaces and paid off 2003 bonds that were used to build a terminal addition.

The airport could get a new runway and other changes in the future. One thing Tippetts doesn’t expect to change much is service from United, which offers Grand Junction flights to and from Denver, and is merging with Continental.

“We don’t know how that will affect us at all,” Tippetts said. “It depends on how they merge things. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t sound like a lot is going to change.”

United switched out 50-passenger jets for 70-passenger jets this year for flights between Grand Junction and Denver.

“Grand Junction has been under-served for a long time,” Tippetts said. “They remedied it this year.”


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