ROCK SPRINGS — Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport held an open house on September 19 and shared plans for a commercial terminal modernization project that will see the facility undergo wholesale changes over the next four years.
The facility’s new capital plan includes a new fuel farm that should be completed by mid-summer 2020 and a snow removal equipment storage building. The terminal modernization project will make the existing facility unrecognizable and includes a number of new amenities. The open house presentation even had a VR walkthrough of the updated terminal.
The airport also revealed the completion of a lease agreement with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to build an aerial tanker base for wild land firefighting. The agreement was completed on September 18.
BY THE NUMBERS
The $18.5 million terminal modernization is the center piece of a capital improvement plan that consists of almost $33 million dollars in upgrades between now and 2025. That list includes everything from constructing the new fuel farm and snow removal equipment storage building, to seal coating and painting pavements.
Airport Director Devon Brubaker noted that the majority of the funding for the improvements at the airport is coming from outside of Sweetwater County. “What I want to point out here is that this is a total of just under $33 million of work over the next six years and only 19.8% of it is local money. So, only about $6.5 million of it is local money,” Brubaker said.
Some of the local funding comes from loans and fees from costumers. “So it’s not all money we’re going to be going and asking the city and county for. $3.36 million is that six penny money that the city agreed to sponsor … if it gets approved by the voters,” he said. Brubaker also noted that he sees federal and state funding for the improvement projects as an important economic driver. “$26.4 million of federal and state funding pours into our community for economic development. That’s pretty awesome,” he said.
The airport is also currently working on a taxiway improvements project that will mean $5.32 million in improvements. “97.5 percent of that number is covered by the FAA and WYDOT,” Brubaker said.
WILD LAND FIRE AERIAL BASE
The airport entered into a twenty year lease agreement with the BLM to build a state of the art single engine aerial tanker base for wild land firefighting. This is the first land lease agreement in the history of the airport. The total cost of the project will be around $1.5 million and about $1 million of that funding will come from the BLM. The facility is expected to be operational by July 1, 2020.
“Once this is operational by this next summer, we will have aerial firefighting coverage right here in our backyard … we can get aerial resources very quickly, instead of having to wait for them from Casper, Rawlins or somewhere in Utah,” Brubaker said.
The new facility is a bright spot on the horizon for the airport, but it will be a scramble to have it operational by next summer. “It’s going to be a big operation for us,” Brubaker said. “We’re excited for it. But we’re up against the clock. We have to renovate 5,000 square feet of office space and build a two acre facility by June 15 of next year. And we have winter in the middle of that.”