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Publish Date: 5/3/2005

Weld leader wants regional airport
Hub would serve northern Colorado, Wyo.


FORT COLLINS — Unincorporated Larimer County resident Will Geiger doesn’t want increased commercial airplane traffic at the Fort Collins-Loveland Airport.

He and residents of southeast Fort Collins — who live in or near the airport’s flight path — want to preserve the small-town character of the airport. They prefer the idea of a regional airport hub that could serve northern Colorado and southern Wyoming’s future airport needs.

Weld County Commissioner Glenn Vaad is stumping for that airport.

He believes that a regional hub could in 20 years replace the Greeley-Weld County and Fort Collins-Loveland airports and that could help alleviate future growing pains as both airports are surrounded by burgeoning growth.

“Somebody’s got to start it and get it going,” said Vaad, whose term is up in 2006. “Then it’s up to people to pick it up.”

Already Vaad has won a promise from the Colorado Aeronautics Division of the Colorado Department of Transportation to study whether such an airport is feasible.

As part of its regular statewide aviation systems study, completed every five or six years, the Aeronautics Division will determine whether there is a need to build a regional airport in
Weld County.

Vaad pinpointed a site in Weld County approximately 5 miles east of Ault, which could be the home of the proposed airport that would offer commercial airline service.

“This is the same distance north of DIA as Colorado Springs is south of DIA,” Vaad said, noting that any number of sites in central unincorporated Weld County might support a regional airport.

“What’s getting everybody excited is that we’re looking at it,” said Travis Vallin, state aeronautics director.

“All we’ve agreed to do is collect the data on it. ... We’ve had a lot of interest on this regional airport. It’s a very small part of this study.”

Vallin said the statewide aviation study, which will take up to 18 months to complete, will give the state some indication where the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration need to make investments to accommodate increased airport traffic.

“We’re growing,” Vallin said. “The aviation activity in the state is growing as well. It’s not a direct correlation to population growth. Most of those families have cars, when you start talking about airplanes, it starts dropping off dramatically.”

He said that while the state has agreed to look at Vaad’s plan to build a regional airport on undeveloped land in the middle of Weld County, state officials have said nothing about whether it supports the idea.

Jenn Ooton can be reached at 303-684-5295, or by e-mail at jooton@times-call.com.

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