Sun Valley region airport gets $18M grant

HAILEY, Idaho (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration is awarding a small central Idaho airport that serves the resort area of Ketchum and Sun Valley an $18 million grant for construction work on safety improvements.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports the Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey was awarded the money earlier this week as part of a series of federal grants expected to cover most of the cost of a $34 million construction project.

"It's just astounding me that this is working as well as it has," airport Manager Rick Baird told the Airport Authority board during a meeting on April 8. "Airports of our size don't normally get grants of this size."

The work, intended to bring the airport near Sun Valley up to federal safety standards, includes moving one taxiway further from the runway and expanding and relocating a terminal. The project is expected to be complete by July 2015.

Work on the airport terminal will cost about $6 million and is scheduled to start in October and be finished by the following summer. Matt Dubbe, an architect with consulting firm Mead & Hunt, said the terminal will be expanded from 20,000 square feet to 34,000 square feet.

The expansion will have enough room to seat all the passengers flying on three 65-seat jets, which Delta Airlines began operating in January on its flights to Salt Lake City.

He also said the new area will have large windows and a 10- to 11-foot ceiling.

"It will feel really, really open," he said.