St. George Regional Airport to close for 4 months in 2019

An airplane at St. George Regional Airport, St. George, Utah, Aug. 21, 2018 | File photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News.

ST. GEORGE — A massive structural repair and upgrade project will necessitate a four-month closure of the St. George Regional Airport next year.

A plane is prepared for departure at the St. George Regional Airport, St. George, Utah, Aug. 21, 2018 | File photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

Approximately 5,400 linear feet of runway will need to be excavated and replaced as a result of water entering the soil underneath it and damaging the existing runway pavement, creating the need for continual patching. During the anticipated 120-day construction project, the airport will be closed to all flights from April 25-Aug. 21, 2019.

“We’d love it to be faster but we can’t be telling our airline partners you can sell tickets and then not meet it,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said, explaining that the city, which owns the airport, consulted with contractors to determine how long the project would take.

The project will cost approximately $27 million, St. George Support Services Director Marc Mortensen said. About 90 percent of the cost will be paid for by an approximately $25 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. The city’s share will amount to around $2 million, which will be funded by the airport’s passenger facility charges – a fee assessed to each passenger on every flight.

The St. George City Council approved the grant during a public meeting Thursday.

Mortensen said the repairs are an “absolute necessity.”

St. George Public Works Director Cameron Cutler said the runway was originally built to design standards and complied with all FAA guidelines but water entering the soil underneath has nonetheless caused issues. He said this time around, engineers are working to avoid that problem entirely in the future.

They’re putting some protective measures in place and going outside the runway to put a barrier to be able stop that water from getting down into the soils,” he said, explaining that contractors will be excavating about 17 feet deep this time around.

During the closure, the city will also take the opportunity to upgrade the airport’s facilities inside the terminal and expand the parking area.

“This is a big deal, but we’ve known it was coming,” Pike said, explaining that all of the airlines operating at the airport have been aware that large-scale repairs will be necessary at some point.

The project’s April-August schedule was chosen to coincide with the time of year when flights in and out of St. George are less frequently booked.

An Allegiant Air MD-80 at the St. George Regional Airport, St. George, Utah, Sept. 8, 2015 | File photo courtesy of Brad Kitchen, St. George News

In the meantime, a patching project has been underway on the areas of the runway at issue, which is being funded by additional FAA grant money and funds from passenger facility charges.

The airport is served by St. George-based SkyWest Airlines on behalf of Delta Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines and the newest addition, Allegiant Air.

Read more: St. George Regional Airport announces new flights to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway 

“SkyWest supports the airport’s efforts to improve the runway and maintain a safe operating environment,” SkyWest spokesman Layne Watson said in a statement to St. George News Thursday. “We will continue working with the City and airport and remain committed to delivering unmatched service to SGU travelers.”

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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35 Comments

  • mshaw August 30, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Sounds like poor work performed the first time around. Better to do it right the the first time. Pike will probably get a kickback from the contractor

  • Real Life August 30, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    This airport was built out of pure necessity. It had to be built. But WOW, it seems like it was cursed from the beginning, and LOCAL politics doomed it. People, please vote, and do some homework on who is pushing the buttons around here.

    • Striker4 August 31, 2018 at 11:08 pm

      LOL ! It doesn’t matter whos in office they all push the same buttons. It seems you’re a tad bit clueless as to how things are done

      • Real Life September 1, 2018 at 8:50 am

        You are trying, but it’s not working. Ssssshhhhhh.

  • Carpe Diem August 31, 2018 at 6:35 am

    Geez louise. Sounds like poor engineering the first go around. C’mon people!

  • hiker75 August 31, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Doesn’t the city get a guarantee for the work done by contractors and engineers? Shoddy work. Why should our taxes have to pay to have something done twice? This is so common place is southern Utah. I guess it is a form of job security. The attitude must be to do it wrong and get paid then redo it and get paid again. Shame, shame…

  • Lastdays August 31, 2018 at 8:57 am

    Wow, closed for 4 months, just wow !
    FAA is not in the business to build crappy airports that fail in 6 yrs. But what happened here is inexcusable. I’ll bet decisions were made to save money by the City in hopes runway would not fail. The engineers probably recommended a particular design and City tried to save money by NOT doing that. Can’t go back on those guys though. They’ve probably retired to avoid answering to this huge debacle.

  • Not_So_Much August 31, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Full speed ahead on the 2 or is it 3 BILLION dollar Lake Powell (think mussels) water pipeline. Officials will be sure it’s built to standards.

  • Steve August 31, 2018 at 10:33 am

    Faith based Engineering?

  • tazzman August 31, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    I don’t see how this is acceptable to redo the entire runway in less than a decade at taxpayer expense without holding the original contractors accountable for their work.

    And the city leadership wants taxpayers to spend billions on a pipeline for a population estimated in the hundreds of thousands.

    Maybe figure out how to build a decent airport first before all of that.

    Unacceptable!

  • justsaying August 31, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    Completely ridiculous. I wonder how the airlines feel about that? Maybe like pulling out? That’s 4 months of lost revenue out of that location for them. The first contractor should be held liable for the poor work.

  • Happy Commenter August 31, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Sane people see stuff for what it actually is. Liberals on the other hand , insist on blaming somebody without considering any facts. To put it simply “POOP HAPPENS”…It is what it is.

    • Steve August 31, 2018 at 6:15 pm

      Gullible conservative rubes such as yourself, are actually the reason inept contractors can get away with poor performance. You are truly clueless.

      • Happy Commenter August 31, 2018 at 8:30 pm

        Waaah waaaah waaaah! It’s got to be fixed, Quit your crying and deal with it!

        • Happy Commenter September 1, 2018 at 9:38 am

          Gullible rubes like Stevie are probably the very contractors he’s complaining about, they all blame everything but their own incompetence.

      • mesaman August 31, 2018 at 8:47 pm

        I liked the part where Stevie whined and blamed us gullible conservatives. Commenter, to see your comments in action must make you feel good.

        • iceplant September 1, 2018 at 2:17 pm

          How sad is it when you have to encourage childish behavior? You’re just as gullible to think his opinions are worth a lick. Maybe the two of you should get together and go bowling sometime.

          • Happy Commenter September 1, 2018 at 4:26 pm

            Oh, get the stick out of your butt and live a little!

  • DRT August 31, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    This is totally unacceptable! I’m not saying the work doesn’t need to be done, I’m saying the folks who built this in the first place, from the city politicians to the architects to the contractors to the inspectors need to be held accountable. This needs a thorough investigation, and not by the locals, but on a state or federal level. Considering the FAA funding spent on this, I don’t think a federal investigation is unreasonable.

  • Bmw2 August 31, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    A similar standard of quality is required of the construction industry here in southern Utah, evidently.

  • Joe August 31, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    What about us that rely on this for our occupation? Our options now become terrible.
    Lost revenue on not only the Airlines, but add lost productivity for the passengers.
    Guess i can catch a bush plane out of Cedar to SLC and try to make some kind of connectio, or drive 2.5 hrs to LAS….. what a disaster.

  • Walter1 August 31, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    Completely ridiculous.
    So typical of Dixie. Everywhere you look is substandard built infrastructure. Lousy paving and concrete work more like third world quality levels. Where were the professional engineers. Don’t the contractors and engineers have a liability here to get it right in the first place. There should be an independent investigation started immediately! No immunity. City leadership should be voted out as soon as possible. This is totally irresponsible. Should have never happened. Sounds a lot like the failed Quail Hollow Dam project. Who were the engineers? Citizens need to speak up or be scammed.

  • FedUp August 31, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    There can only be one reason the local government is not going after the original contractors and that is that they waived recommendations to do the job correctly.

    The same people are now trying to get us to fund the Lake Powell Pipeline, which even if built correctly, won’t have any water to transport.

    All for a dollar.

  • Walter1 August 31, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    Mortensen has been there since the beginning!

    • Walter1 August 31, 2018 at 9:07 pm

      Or at least we should ask Mr. Mortensen a few questions to see what information he may have about the past airport decision making process and who was involved in them. Lots of questions here and very few answers. No blame but the citizens deserve to know the truth.

  • Larry August 31, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Is the water coming from the underground aquifers that are (Now) being recharged by Sand Hollow? I ask because I have noticed a few areas that seem to be greening up at random areas even out in the middle of the desert.

  • jaltair September 1, 2018 at 1:16 am

    Poor engineering and planning, there should be an independent investigation and whoever the “professionals” were in the building process should be sued so taxpayers aren’t totally responsible. I worry most things that are undertaken in this city seems to be done too hastily. I’d say no pipeline until the airport situation is investigated. There is too much being spent on city projects that most likely just padding pockets. I’d like to know more about that airport and who the contractors were.

    • Real Life September 1, 2018 at 8:08 am

      I agree. If the taxpayers are on the hook for any of the repairs, then we have a right to know the individuals responsible.

  • An actual Independent September 1, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    No mention of the many many private Pilot/aircraft owners who fly out of the airport. Will they keep one half of the runway open for small planes to use as needed? Or will all those planes sit there, unusable for 4 months? What about the FBO’s who make their living servicing aircraft? What about the hangar owners? Flight schools? What about the tie down fees that people pay to keep an airplane on a field they won’t be able to leave?
    This is going to be a huge mess. If past performance is any indication, all those people will get little to no communication from the city, either. There is simply not enough available nearby ramp space to accommodate all the aircraft based at SGU.

  • HarleyGuy September 2, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Going down 17 feet this time? Sounds like the runway was built on the infamous blue clay.

  • doofus September 2, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    An airport that can close for 4 months probably isn’t needed in the first place.

  • An actual Independent September 4, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Well, today we (pilots with planes at the airport) were notified that only helicopters will be able to operate during the closure. The whole middle of the runway will be dug up, so there will not be a long enough open section for even small airplanes to use.

  • utahdiablo September 6, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    Screw the Airport and screw the Good ol boys who run the city….does anyone recall that we were all told that only certian size aircraft could fly in as the runway was not long enough or thick enough to handle the added weight of larger aircraft? …No?…then you all were not paying attention to the details….so these POS at the airport have been flying in oversize aircraft these last few years and now the runway is runied….close the damn thing, who the hell cares

    • An actual Independent September 14, 2018 at 8:41 am

      There are/were serious problems…but that’s not it. The jets SkyWest flies in and out of here are not the oversized planes they were talking about. The runway surface is too thin to regularly accomodate your Airbus type planes, though they could land here on occasion if necessary. Landing aircraft did not turn the runway into a rollercoaster. They didn’t cause the warping of multiple hangar buildings, either. That’s been going on for quite some time but you don’t hear about it because it doesn’t affect the general public.
      This airport was simply built on expansive soil. The saddest part is that the expansive soils there were pretty common knowledge before the airport was built. Whether from corruption or simple incompetence, we now find ourselves in place we never should have been.

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