Rock Springs City Council Approves Funding for Airport Design Phase

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Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport
As the deadline for federal grant funding approaches, the Rock Springs City Council gives the airport a boost.

ROCK SPRINGS — The Rock Springs City Council has approved a $200,000 request from Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport Manager Devon Brubaker to begin the schematic design phase of the new commercial terminal.

Earlier yesterday, the Sweetwater Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 against un-tabling a request from the airport for monies needed to begin its new Commercial Terminal Modernization Project.

As a result, Airport Director Devon Brubaker spoke to the Rock Springs City Council last night requesting that $200,000 of the city’s previously authorized $355,000 be used for the schematic design phase of the project.

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The council unanimously approved the airport request following thorough discussion.

Application Deadline Nears

Congress authorized the Federal Aviation Administration to distribute grant money to smaller airports such as Rock Springs back in March.

A deadline to apply for the supplemental funding was set for October 31 to assure the FAA that these airports were proceeding with a genuine design phase, and not simply dealing in hypotheticals, said Brubaker.

With the county tabling the airport request for at least the time being however, the Oct. 31 deadline has been seriously jeopardized.

The estimated cost of either renovating the existing airport terminal or possibly building an entirely new terminal amounts to $14 million, according to Brubaker. He added that the design work will help nail down the actual cost more precisely.

“It could be $14 million or it could be $9 million,” Brubaker said, “but nobody can know how to budget for it until we know what the actual cost is.”

Mayor Carl Demshar asked Brubaker if he was planning to simply renovate the existing terminal or build a whole new one.

“That is to be determined,” Brubaker responded.

He suggested that if, for example, it would cost $12 million to build a completely new airport terminal, and $14 million to renovate the existing terminal, it would be foolish not to construct, at less cost, a completely new terminal.

Brubaker added that the FAA required the airport to consider both renovation and new terminal options.

Growing Demand Requires More Space

The FAA has determined that the existing terminal is simply inadequate for even current air traffic, much less anticipated increases in future years, Brubaker said.

The administration estimates that the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport needs to be between 35,000-40,000 square feet to accommodate current demand. The airport presently encompasses 16,000 square feet.