ROCK SPRINGS — The Rock Springs City Council authorized more than $355,500 for its share in the design phase of the airport’s commercial terminal modernization project at its meeting last week.
Airport Manager Devon Brubaker told the council that Congress has authorized $1 billion in extra discretionary airport infrastructure funding, with priority being given to smaller airports around the country.
However, funding allocations are highly competitive, and Brubaker estimates there are approximately 1,400 airports in the United States that could share in this money if they had “shovel-ready” projects to be funded.
Half of these airports probably do not have qualifying projects, he assured the council.
“So there’s about 700 airports vying” for a piece of that $1 billion”, Brubaker said. Rock Springs is one of those airports.
The total projected cost for modernizing the terminal here amounts to $14 million.
Some of the local funding would have to come from the County Commissioners, said Brubaker.
As for Green River, Brubaker cautioned that at this time, “there is no legal standing for Green River to jump in” since its not a party to the airport agreement.
“The timing of this request is critical as we must have design underway and our application for funding submitted to the FAA by October 31,” Brubaker said in a letter to the Council outlining his request.
The entire $1 billion appropriation must be granted by the end of Federal FY 2020.
“It is our intention to be ready for bid by the fall of 2019 with construction beginning early 2020 should we be selected for the grant,” said Brubaker.
The remaining $1,066,667 design phase of the project beyond Rock Springs’ contribution of $355,556, will be paid for by Sweetwater County.
Councilmen were already well-convinced of the need to upgrade that particular area of the airport. Mayor Carl Demshar complimented Brubaker on the organization and thoroughness of his report.
“If we want to diversify our economy and invite new businesses to relocate here, infrastructure is vital, especially air service…If you don’t have air service, you’re not going to be where you need to be for the local economy to develop…This is an opportunity to practice what we preach,” said Demshar.
The council unanimously approved the 10-year requirement to re-designate part of the city as a slum or blighted area, for purposes of Urban Renewal Agency grants and federal funding.
Councilmen Rob Zotti said that 10 years ago, many people had objected to their section of the city—which covers a fairly large section—being designated as a slum or blighted area.
However, as a result of the designation, grant funding came through which otherwise would have been impossible.