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Jackson Hole Airport budget OK’d, runway renovations to occur FY22

Editor’s note: Oops! The original article contained a typo and stated that construction work would start in April of 2021 when it should have said 2022, a calendar year later. 

JACKSON, Wyo. — The Jackson Hole Airport Board received approval of their budget from the town and county, for the upcoming fiscal year 2021-2022, beginning July 1.

According to the budget report presented to town and county elected officials, the Airport based the comparisons for this budget against the fiscal year 2019/2020 actual values. The Board felt this was an accurate comparison because the runway reconstruction project will close the runway for 78 days. The closure roughly coincides with the onset of COVID-19 in March of 2020 and the economic downturn that followed.

The airport also estimates enplanements for the upcoming fiscal year to total 377,630 people. The estimate is down 10% compared to last year and accounts for the closure as well.

Runway renovations

Construction on the new runway is planned to begin on April 11, 2022, and last 78 days, with a planned reopening on the morning of June 28. The construction will run 24/7 in order to minimize the closure length.  The airport will be closed to all air traffic except Teton Interagency Dispatch.

Jackson Hole Airport Direct Jim Elwood shared that the project will be re-using existing materials “in the excess of 90%.” During a Town and County Joint Information Meeting on April 12, Elwood explained that the new runway will be the exact footprint of the current runway. According to Elwood, the project is estimated to cost about 38.8 million dollars.

The first phase of the project will begin next month— importing materials, working on drainage projects, “getting a head start on the project next year” said Elwood. The first phase is planned to be completed by the end of October, prior to the winter season.

Phase two will begin on the closure date of April 11, with runway reconstruction beginning. Elwood explained that the Airport is doing everything that can to make sure the project is completed on time. “They put a financial incentive on the contractor to finish on time if not early. There is upwards of a million dollars in funds,” said Elwood. 

The third phase will be completed while the airport is open again, and includes the grooving and painting of the runway.

Running the construction project 24/7 raised concerns from the council in terms of noise and light pollution.

“I will tell you that this project will have some noise associated with it. There is really no way to avoid that. We will do everything that we can possibly think of to reduce those impacts,” said Elwood. Commissioner Mark Newcomb asked Elwood to provide an estimate of the decibel level for the noise that will occur at night while crews work to replace the runway.

Elwood assured the town and county citing past experience. He said, “ I will commit to you that we will do all that we can to keep that noise down. We did a similar operation in aspen when I worked there at night also very sensitive to noise and that particular project went very well.

Terminal expansion

While the airport is closed, the Terminal will also be remodeled in some areas. Nine ticketing counters will be added and the food kiosk near ticketing will be moved to the baggage claim area.

The TSA checkpoint area is also receiving renovations. Six new high-volume automated checkpoints will be installed. An additional gate we added on the northside of the building and the current restaurant, Jedediah’s will expand.

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