Garfield County airport project needs another $1.5 million |

Garfield County airport project needs another $1.5 million

John Colson
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. – The federal government is being asked to come up with $1.5 million more than was expected for Garfield County’s airport improvement project.

And apparently there is no certainty that the money will be found.

The issue arose recently when blasting crews discovered that a patch of bedrock, which is being removed to make way for the realignment of a runway, is 20 feet thicker than expected, according to airport manager Brian Condie.

“That’s a change order of a large magnitude,” Condie said, explaining that this phase of the airport project was to have cost $11.5 million, nearly all of it coming from the Federal Aviation Administration.

With the added blasting expense, that will rise to $13 million, and Condie said the FAA was uncertain it could find that money right away.

The overall cost of the project is anticipated to be $33 million or more.

“What that meant was, we now had no money for blasting,” Condie said about the blasting problem, adding that the project could not be held up until the money was found for fear of missing the completion deadline next November.

“We all agreed that we had passed the point of no return,” Condie said of the deliberations among county officials, “and that some way we would get the funding.”

After considerable internal debate, he said, local officials decided the only way to plug the funding gap was to take some of the FAA funds meant for completing the project, such as earth moving and paving, and use it to pay for the blasting work.

“We still have a million and a half unfunded, but it’s at the end of the project,” Condie said.

But the work is continuing, and county officials say they won’t worry about the funding gap unless the FAA is not able to come through with the $1.5 million.

And the plan remains in effect to close the airport to planes on April 5, for the duration of the runway realignment project.

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