Improvements at Farmington Regional Airport are taking off after having been stalled for a number of years. On Nov. 13, city officials and business representatives gathered at the airport to break ground for the second phase of an improvement and expansion project that started in late November.
Among the improvements will be a new terminal and, during the third phase, the runway lengthened from 4,221 feet to 5,000 feet.
Farmington city administrator Greg Beavers said existing terminal buildings will be torn down, "and we will replace them with a new terminal facility. We will be expanding the runway to 5,000 feet. We are taking this facility and making it a nice front door for our community."
Beavers said several local businesses use the airport for business travel.
The first work to be done -- relocation and expansion of the airport terminal site -- involves building a new terminal, improving security fencing, installing a new fuel delivery system and building new shade ports, which are open-ended hangars used to shelter airplanes from inclement weather.
Cost of this phase of the airport expansion is $2,119,000. Gershenson Construction of Eureka, Mo., will do earthwork, demolition and paving. Bids for the terminal and fuel delivery system have not yet been received.
Larry McCormick, airport manager since 1988, said the first phase of the project was completed in 1998 when the runway was repaved to make it wider and stronger. He said phase three, which involves lengthening the runway, is in the planning stage but work on that would not begin for about five years.
"The city can't apply for financial grants until phase two is done," said McCormick. "We'll have to buy out about five houses to the south. Right now it's hard to figure what that price will be."
McCormick said the city is in the process of building a new, self-service airport.
"It'll be like driving into a gas station. People flying in will need to use a credit card for fuel, and they'll have a code to gain access to the new terminal 24 hours a day."
McCormick said 25 planes are currently housed in hangars at the airport. He said the new hangars -- shade ports -- will enhance the appearance of the airport.
There will be no fixed-base operator when phase two is complete. A fixed-base operator, said McCormick, is a business that sells fuel, maintains navigation equipment and lights, and oversees the general safety of the runway.