Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Farmington, New Mexico: Plans for airport discussed today.

January 17, 2012
By Kurt Madar, Daily-Times

FARMINGTON — Farmington is developing a plan for how its airport is going to change over the next 20 years, and airport officials want public input.

A master plan will dictate what changes, if any, are made to airport infrastructure.

At a public information workshop today airport officials will present four options for how the master plan will look and local residents and business leaders are invited.

"The goal is to make the airport viable for the next 20 years at least into the foreseeable future," said airport manager Ben Trujillo. "We want to get input from as many people as possible, specifically the business leaders, because in the end, they will benefit the most."

The ultimate goal is to make the airport capable of landing small jets, Trujillo said. That would allow the airport to start service to Houston and Atlanta.

"We really want to be able to service the oil and gas industry," Trujillo said. "Of the four options, option D is the only one that gives us the opportunity to meet that target."

Option D is the only one of the four options that expands the runway to 10,000 feet, the required amount to allow small jets to land and take off.

"You would need that to service all the types of aircraft that can fly back east," Trujillo said. "That's what airlines are flying right now. American Eagle, for example, is flying RJs, which are pressurized and have a 99-seat capacity."

Expanding the airport's reach has long been on the wish list of local government, with extending the runway identified as an unfunded project in the city's capital improvement projects list.

The runway extension would cost $23 million.

"While we remain grateful for the service we have to four hub cities, we continue to explore every possible means to improve and enhance our community airport," said Farmington City Manager Rob Mayes. "There continues to be an expressed desire for flights to Albuquerque and to hub cities in Texas."

The only problem is finding funding. One of the things a master plan makes possible is the opportunity to seek federal dollars for the runway extension.

Today's presentation will be given by WH Pacific, the company that is preparing the airport's master plan.

"We are at the development stage right now," said Senior Airport Planner Wendy Renier. "Because of the limited space, we are breaking the process into two steps."

Planners are looking at the air side of things: namely, the runway and taxiing space.

"The choice of how the air side will look will drive where some of the land side can go," Renier said.

Land side refers to where terminal buildings and parking will be placed.

"What I will tell you for the master plan is that we are addressing what they can do, based on a large range of funding, and what they can't, unless they are willing to put that money into it," Renier said.

Today's meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. For more information call 505-599-1462.

Article:  http://www.daily-times.com/ci_19757273

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