JACKSON, Wyoming (KIFI) - Planning, teamwork and drive have kept construction on the new Jackson Hole Airport runway on track for its grand reopening.
The airport is almost a month away from reopening after closing down for renovations to the runway, terminal, and restaurant. But officials say the nearly $88 million project is on time to reopen in June.
Jackson Hole Airports Executive Director, Jim Elwood, has been spearheading the project for the past three years. Elwood has been working closely with construction crews, the Idaho Falls Regional Airport, and the Jackson Hole community, to ensure travelers can get to where they need to go during the full closure.
This left travelers having to commute to the Idaho Falls airport to travel during the spring. But Eldwood says the full closure was necessary due to the amount of work needed to be done.
"For this project, we're going down roughly 3 or 4 feet into the sub-base," Elwood said. "So we're totally replacing it, and coming back up with a completely new runway."
Elwood also stated that this time of year is experiencing the least amount of travel.
"When we started this project, we knew we needed to do it during the lowest use of the airport time of year." Elwood said, "So that brought us back to an April start date and we've really worked to get it done as quickly as we possibly could."
The Jackson Hole Airport is the only airport in the nation that operates inside of a national park. Leading to some unique designs exclusive to the airport's needs.
Over 300 people are working day and night to make sure the airport can open by its deadline. In addition to working on unique additions that will only be found at the Jackson Hole Aiport.
Jviation Project Engineer, Stuart Schiff, the most unique addition is a nearly 30 thousand foot-long slot drain.
"It will run the full length of the runway on both sides," Schiff said. "we have over 29 thousand linear feet of slot drain to install, and we are about halfway done with that."
Schiff also noted that Jvaiation and Knife River construction was able to save money on trucking and supplies by using the soil and other natural resources on site.
"I would argue that this is one of the most eco-friendly projects out there," Schiff said.
Unlike the roads we drive on that seem to gain potholes every year, Schiff and Elwood agree that this will be the last major renovation to the runway for a long time.
"We may need to come back and do some overlays again in that window," Elwood said. "But this project won't need to be done again for really a generation,
"And to be able to set that stage and allow that to be in place so it won't need to be done again is really exciting."
While travelers will still have to commute to Idaho Falls for their air travel needs for the next month, construction is on time for the airports to reopen on June 28 at 6 a.m.