New airport for Monticello
by Buckley Jensen
According to Monticello Assistant City Manager Ruth Skouson, after years of planning, buying land, getting piles of permits and securing millions of dollars, the City of Monticello will soon begin construction on a new airport across Highway 191 east of the present airport.
The new runways will be 6,000 feet long, which will accommodate small jet aircraft. The old airport was 4,800 feet long, which made it unusable for many types of larger aircraft. Also, the old airport’s location did not lend itself to expansion.
Designers are Armstrong Consultants in Grand Junction, CO. Bids are being advertised at the present time and will close on May 6. Construction will begin as soon as the winning contractor can begin.
Total estimated cost of the project is $7.2 million with 95 percent of the funding will come from the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency). In addition, 2.5 percent of the cost will come from a Utah State grant.
Seventy-five percent of the remaining 2.5 percent will come from San Juan County and the balance will come from the City of Monticello, which will own the facility and be responsible for its management and maintenance.
Scheduled for completion in 2012, the construction plan calls for grading and utility installation this year, paving in 2010 and 2011 and taxiway and apron construction in 2012.
A new terminal building will also be constructed along with night lighting for runways, new beacons, refueling facilities and other necessary airport facilities.
The City hopes it will be feasible to move the existing hangars to the new airport across the highway.
The old airport, small as it is, has seen some exciting times. The night the U.S. Air Force B-52 crashed in Dry Valley in l961, the Monticello Airport handled scores of large military planes of all kinds.
In 1980, an Army Helicopter crash near Peter’s Point brought many other helicopters and fixed wing aircraft into the area. There was a long row of large green helicopters at the airport during that incident.
With future growth in the Monticello area, the new facility will be capable of handling regularly scheduled commercial flights. It could be a boon to business, industry, tourism, education and other segments of the northern San Juan economy.
In the meantime, just the number of workers necessary to build the new airport will be an economic stimulus to Monticello.