New terminal for Aspen airport up for discussion Tuesday | AspenTimes.com

New terminal for Aspen airport up for discussion Tuesday

The future of Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, as seen from Owl Creek Road, could involve relocating part of the road to allow for a runway to accommodate larger aircraft. More parking and a new terminal also are being discussed. Commissioners will review the terminal options at work session today.

Pitkin County commissioners on Tuesday, Dec. 8, will review public feedback for the airport's four terminal options and possibly whittle the number down to two.

Airport Director John Kinney is scheduled to make a presentation of the terminal options and citizen input at a discussion set for 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Plaza One Meeting Room.

The discussion comes after the county launched a public-outreach campaign, beginning in February, that included multiple meetings with residents about what they prefer in a new airport terminal. The county also collected feedback on its commenting section at http://www.pitkincountyconnect.com.

Based on feedback from the Community Input Committee, neighborhood meetings, coffee chats and the website, the most popular option is Building Concept 3, according to a memo from Kinney to the county commissioners.

That terminal is proposed east of the existing terminal. The building's footprint would be smaller than the existing one and its overall building mass would be reduced, among other reasons it was the prevailing option, the memo says. The one drawback is that the nested building would require either an elevator or escalator to accommodate travelers.

Concept 2, a split-level terminal, and Concept 4, a two-story terminal, appear to be tied as the second preference.

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The two final terminal options would be subject to approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. Environmental assessments also would be required.

Airport officials have scrapped the potential for building jet bridges, which are common amenities in larger airports that connect passengers directly from the aircraft to the terminal.

"It has been determined that the inclusion of jet bridges is counter to the community goals and priorities and not required to maintain safe and efficient operations," the memo says.

The county in September approved an airport layout plan allowing for the construction of a terminal of up to 80,000 square feet, a runway upgrade to accommodate larger aircraft, and new above-ground parking.

County and tourism officials have said the runway improvement is necessary because by 2025, the airline industry will have retired its fleet of CRJ700s, which currently comprise 95 percent of the airport's commercial traffic.

The runway improvement, which would include widening it by 50 feet and shifting its center line 80 feet to the west, is needed to allow airplanes with larger wingspans of up to 118 feet, authorities have said.

The FAA has set the airport's wingspan limits to 95 feet. The CRJ700 aircraft, which account for roughly 95 percent of the airport's commercial service, have a wingspan of 76 feet and 3 inches.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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