Photo: Nick Sulzer // Buckrail

JACKSON, Wyo. — In the spring of 2022, the Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) will be closed for a period of close to three months, from April 11, 2022, until June 27, 2022.

Back in November of 2020, the Jackson Hole Airport announced that they were going to schedule runway reconstruction.

Jim Elwood, Executive Director of Jackson Hole Airport explained that the renovations to take place are crucial and necessary.

“The runways wear out and once in a generation or so you have to go in and rebuild them to FAA specifications,” Elwood said. “In our case, the runway has run its full life cycle and it’s gone through two major repairs and that’s what’s underway here.”

The project will involve three phases. Phase one will begin the project with preliminary prep work, paving of runway safety areas, drainage installation, and staging of construction materials starting next month, June 2021, through Oct. 2021.

Photo: JH Airport

“We will be doing some construction work this summer [2021] that will not impact the activity of the airport, but will allow the contractor to get underway and accomplish as much work as can reasonably be done,” Elwood said. “So by the time we get to April next year, we can really focus on getting done what needs to be done efficiently.”

Phase two is the period in which the runway will be closed for 78 days for a total reconstruction. The asphalt runway at the Jackson Hole Airport has been rehabbed four times since it was originally constructed in the late 1970s.

Elwood said, “It involves complete excavation of not only the top surface but all of the subgrade materials. The subbase actually creates all of the strength that the asphalt sits on. Some of that subbase has been in place since the 1970s.”

Phase three is intended for runway grooving and striping and will take place from July 2022 until August 2022. Elwood said that phase three will be done at night and travelers can expect regular operations to take place.

“It will ensure a high quality of safe runway surface into the future. You can’t really have potholes on the runway,” Elwood said. “It might be tolerable on a roadway, but a runway has to be in perfect condition all of the time. This will ensure that the pavement is there and in quality condition and safe for years to come.”

The Board also gave the go-ahead to proceed with initial designs for two-terminal improvement projects, as well as updates to the security screening checkpoint and the restaurant area. JAC says that the terminal projects will help the airport accommodate demands placed on the facility, intended to increase available space to safely and efficiently conduct airport operations.

Jackson Hole Airport is the only commercial airport located within a national park. Because of this, the airport has been working with the park service throughout the entire process.

“We’ve been in coordination with the park service every step of the way,” Elwood said. “In this case, there were a number of review periods.”

For example, JAC is ensuring that replaceable soils meet park standards, along the lines of preventing invasive species.

The project is budgeted between $25-35 million and construction will take place 24/7 between the first and last day of closure (Phase 2). The majority of the funding comes from grants by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the State of Wyoming Division of Aeronautics. No local sales or property tax money will be used for the project.

“It’s a very large project and we respect the fact that it’s going to impact some people’s plans,” said Elwood. “We’re anxious to have that new runway back in service as quick as anyone else in the community is interested to see it operational again.”

Buckrail @ Jacob

Jacob Gore was born and raised in Cheyenne, the capital city of Wyoming. As a proud Wyomingite, he loves to share his home with visitors from around the world. Spending years in Jackson and Alaska as an interpretive nature guide, he remains a photographer, traveler, storyteller, and avid hobbyist of all-things outdoors. Jacob enjoys bridging the connection between Jackson and the rest of the state.