Wyoming officials have launched construction of a new airport in Hot Springs County, citing increased safety for pilots and a possible economic shot in the arm for the region.
The airport will eventually replace the existing Hot Springs County-Thermopolis Municipal Airport, a facility that fails to meet federal design standards and is ineligible for maintenance funding, said a local news report.
The existing airport’s 4,800-foot runway sits in obstructed terrain that limits the airport’s potential for expansion. The runway also has excessive slope, making it an unsatisfactory destination for some flights and leaving officials no choice but to relocate the airport for future airport improvement funding eligibility, said David Ulane, AOPA northwest/mountain regional manager.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead attended a Sept.13 groundbreaking ceremony for the $20 million airport project, describing it as a possible incentive for businesses considering locating in Wyoming, said the news report.
The county commissioners announced acquisition of the property for the new airport northwest of Thermopolis.
The new airport plan calls for construction of a 6,370-foot long, 75-foot-wide runway with a 35-foot-wide parallel taxiway. The property contains approximately 482 acres, offering adequate safety areas and better instrument approaches, he said.
“Excellent FAA and Wyoming state aeronautics funding means that the county share of the project’s funding will only amount to about $400,000 of the estimated $20 million construction cost,” Ulane said, adding that construction of a new airport is a “rare occurrence.”
Construction is seen progressing over five or six years, with the FAA covering 95 percent of the cost, state aeronautics funding contributing three percent, and the county covering the remaining two-percent share.
“Hot Springs County truly appreciates the value of its airport,” Ulane said.