Durango airport terminal project expected to break ground in spring 2023
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Durango airport terminal project expected to break ground in spring 2023

Jul 18, 2023

Construction on a reimagined terminal at Durango-La Plata County Airport is expected to begin in spring 2023.

The most up-to-date plans for the airport were presented Wednesday during an open house at Durango City Hall.

Terminal development will occur across construction phases 1A and 1B, the former planned for spring 2023 and the latter scheduled for 2024. Phase 1A is a targeted project that will focus on expanding parking opportunities at the terminal, said Tony Vicari, aviation director at DRO.

The main parking area will be expanded with a new ingress into the area, a new rental car parking area will be built, the outer parking lot loop road will be demolished and employee parking will be relocated to the south overflow parking area, according to design documents displayed during the open house.

Expansion of restroom capacities and the addition of other post-screening services are also planned for Phase 1A, Vicari said.

Phase 1B will bring fundamental changes to the flow, layout and passenger experience of DRO, he said. About 25,000 square feet will be added to the airport. Transportation Security Administration screening is planned to be relocated to an area yet to be built with a more linear layout, in addition to a new baggage claim area, and another flight gate and seating area.

Vicari said phases 1A and 1B are needed to meet projected five- to 10-year growth. Other phases are in the planning stages as well, but they are subject to future demand and funding availability.

Potential limitations the airport must be mindful of include a lack of affordable housing, which makes it difficult for working people to settle in the area, as well as long-term regional water infrastructure challenges, Vicari said.

“So consequently, our projections for airport growth are on the conservative side, knowing we have the ability to scale development if that trajectory picks up a little faster,” he said.

Vicari said the terminal redesign is taking place at no cost to local taxpayers, instead relying on airport revenue streams for project funding.

Funding will come from operating revenues, airport fees and charges and grant funds for infrastructure through the Federal Aviation Administration.

Vicari said the project is relying on airport revenue for project funding because voters previously shot down proposed tax increases. In 2016, for example, voters rejected increasing property tax mill levies.

“The measure was fairly roundly defeated,” he said. “Airport staff, myself included, heard that message and understood there wasn’t that palatability in the community to be able to invest that level of local funding in airport infrastructure.”

He said the airport took that sentiment to heart and came up with current project plans and phases that allow for a more incremental implementation of designs.

Floor plans for various phases of the terminal design project that were on display at the open house are available online at https://bit.ly/3JoUDFg.

Later phases call for parking lot expansions and even the demolition and reconstruction of existing buildings and lots. Phase 2 is tentatively scheduled to begin construction in 2032, with phases 4 and 5 not planned for any time in the next decade. Concept renderings show solar panels on the airport’s roof and additional skylights above gates.

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