As most locals know, Montrose Regional Airport is expanding. Despite the negative effects of Covid on air travel, the airport has actually seen increasing use in recent years. In the interest of expanding travel opportunities, improving infrastructure, and making the process of flying more enjoyable for passengers, several improvements are underway
The expansion, which began in November of 2021, will see the terminal more than doubling in size, from 30,000 to 70,000 square feet. Additions will be built to the north and south of the existing terminal, and a second story will house additional gates and a new bar area. Two new restaurant spaces will be added and jetways will be installed to ease the process of boarding and disembarking planes.
Overall, the new design contains more space for passengers to enjoy while they utilize the airport. Additional carriers, flights, and destinations will become available with the increased terminal size. Parking will see improvements as well, with the current long term/overflow dirt parking lot to be paved. Sidewalks and lighting will be installed by June and over 500 spaces added in total.
The cost of the project is currently estimated at $40 million, $12.2 million of which is being provided by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. No funds for construction are being drawn from local sales or property tax. Construction is taking place in two phases: the first phase of the project, which includes the north-side addition and second story, is underway and set to be completed by winter of this year. The second phase, consisting of the south-side addition, is planned to be completed in the fall of 2023.
This is not the first time the airport has been expanded. While the airport has been in use since the 1940s, the terminal as we know it now was dedicated on June 25, 1988, with the ribbon-cutting performed by Chuck Yeager.
Yeager, who passed away in 2020 at the age of 97, was well-known as a pilot, serving in the US Air Force during World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War. He was a test pilot during the 1940s, and is most widely known for being the first person to break the sound barrier in 1947 at the age of 24, flying the Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis, named after his wife.
He received many accolades during his 70 year flying career, becoming a flying ace due to his skill during WWII, rising to the rank of Brigadier General, and being inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. A plaque commemorating his part in the 1988 dedication of Montrose Regional Airport can be found in the terminal and reads, “An incredible life well lived, America's greatest pilot, and a legacy of strength, adventure, and patriotism will be remembered forever”.
The airport will continue to function during the expansion. For updated information on progress, including behind-the-scenes photos and videos of construction, check the airport's website and social media pages.