The FAA has given officials in St. George, Utah, the nod to build a new airport.
The community’s current airport, St. George Municipal (SGU), is located about a mile from the city. St. George is in southwest Utah, approximately 119 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
The municipal airport has run out of room to grow, says Airport Manager Michael LaPier. “The current facility was built post-World War II on 288 acres that sits on a bluff,” he explained. “The north end of the approach is bordered by houses and a good portion of the south end is sheer cliff so you can’t extend the runway.
The runway measures 6,606 feet long and there are runway and taxiway separation issues. The largest airplane the airport can support is a 34-passenger airplane that is restricted to 25 passengers or less because of weight issues.”
The new airport will be built approximately five miles from downtown St. George and will feature a 9,300-foot runway.
Its development began in 1995 with a study to determine the impact a new airport would have on the region. The FAA initially gave the project the green light in 2000 when the first Environmental Impact Statement was released.
The project was delayed in 2001 when The Grand Canyon Trust filed suit in the District of Columbia Circuit Court alleging that the FAA had not adequately addressed the impact of noise over wilderness areas. The site is located near Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. There are several state parks and recreational areas in the vicinity as well.
The FAA did more studies and noise abatement procedures are being developed to minimize impact on the area.
According to LaPier, the new facility will be built on approximately 1,500 acres of desert land. About 420 acres have already been acquired.
“The rest of it we will have to buy,” he said. “There are several private owners on it now.”
Estimated cost of the project hasn’t been determined.
“Three years ago it was $107 million,” said LaPier, “and now we are working feverishly to develop a new number. We will also have to hire a design team.”
LaPier notes that a website, SGAirport.org, will be launched soon to keep the public informed about the project.
The earliest the new airport could be open is 2012. After it is open the old airport will be decommissioned and the land redeveloped.
First landing made atnew Houston airport
The runway has been paved and the first airplane has landed at Houston Executive Airport in Texas, but it will still be months before the airport is open for business.
The new airport is located west of Houston on the site of the former Air Rice Airport (78TX), a private facility primarily used by crop dusters. As this issue was going to press, the ramp area had been completed and the infrastructure for hangars and an FBO were being built.
The airport is being built by WCF, LLC, led by pilot and entrepreneur Ron Henriksen.
“Mr. Henriksen celebrated his 60th birthday in August by making the first landing at the field,” noted Drew Coats, an airport spokesman.
The airport will open in the first quarter of 2007.
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