Environmental Group Supports Decision
Good news for flyers in
southwestern Utah... as the Federal Aviation Administration gave
its final approval Monday to build a new airport to serve the
growing city of St. George.
"It's Christmas in August," Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said in
response to the news. "St. George is booming, and its airport
simply can't keep up with the increased demand for much
It has been a long time coming for the new airport, which was
delayed following a court win for The Grand Canyon Trust in 2001.
The environmental group accused the FAA of not taking the noise
impact to nearby Zion National Park into account when pushing for
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that situation has now been
rectified, according to city leaders, with the new airport --
located five miles southeast of the city -- offering a
noise-abatement approach path designed to keep airplanes west of
the park, and as high as possible. The Grand Canyon Trust said
Monday it supports the FAA's decision.
Now comes the issue of money -- with the airport's expected cost
now lying somewhere in between $120 and $150 million, far above
initial expectations of a $92 million tab, due to the costs of the
delay and litigation.
Fortunately for St. George, the city will receive an infusion of
cash next month -- when the FAA hands the city its first financial
grant to get the bulldozers rolling. The check will be delivered by
agency administrator Marion Blakey.
"This has been a long and sometimes difficult process," said St.
George Mayor Dan McArthur, "and we are pleased to finally be at a
point where this project can now become a reality."
The Tribune reports the new airport will ultimately be able to
handle as many as 120,000 passengers by 2020 -- more than twice as
many as the current facility (above right), which offers service
through regional operator SkyWest.
In addition to allowing room for expansion, the new facility
will also be able to handle slightly larger jets than the
50-seaters flying into the current airport. The old facility
has also drawn the FAA's ire, due to its runway not meeting agency
And as for the fate of that old airport? Well... to help defray
the costs of the new facility, the land near downtown St. George
will be converted into, you guessed it, new residential and
commercial lots. The price of progress.