For those of you who may have been stuck in your homes this past year, you may not have seen what is happening at the Provo Municipal Airport.

There are still airplanes, private and commercial, flying in and out of the airport. And commercial provider Allegiant Air even added a few new routes to Tucson, Denver and Orange County, California, during 2020. But that’s not all, there are other things spreading their wings at the airport including the construction of the new four gates, and in the future up to a 10-gate terminal.

Nicole Martin, the Community Relations and Public Information officer, has been following the terminal from the beginning of the groundbreaking. With one year remaining until its opening, Martin shared with the Daily Herald some of the airport’s history and where it’s at now.

“Provo Airport (PVU) is expanding with the construction of a new terminal building. The newly constructed terminal will provide four passenger gates with a total building area of approximately 65,000 square feet. This will allow the airport to meet the increasing demand for commercial airline services right here in Provo, the economically forward and vibrant center of Utah County,” Martin said.

“The new PVU terminal is expected to be complete and ready for service in May 2022,” she added.

Looking back

The airport has a long history and every step that has been taken has brought the city closer to a commercial regional airport.

During the early 1940s, an airstrip was constructed in Provo at the site where the airport would eventually be built. This was initially done in response to the military requesting airstrips to be built throughout the country, according to Martin.

Soon after installment, a flight school and service station for airplanes opened. However, it wasn’t until 2010 that an air traffic control tower would be added to allow for commercial flights into and out of Provo.

From 2010 to the present, it has become increasingly evident that PVU would need to expand to allow for the unprecedented growth that Utah County has experienced this past decade.

Terminal progress

So far the construction of the new terminal building is progressing quickly. Below is an overview of some significant milestones on this expansive project that Martin shared.

The following has already been completed for the new terminal:

Funding & Grants — In 2019, the Utah State Legislature and Utah County committed $13.5 million to the new Provo Airport Terminal Building to add to the $8 million that the FAA had committed to the apron for the project. During 2020, the airport was successful in obtaining an additional $15.4 million dollars in FAA grants and $15 million in additional local funding to fully fund the new terminal building and the associated parking lots, access roads, apron and de-ice pads.

The project design — This has been finished. The initial dirt work and placement of surcharge materials for the parking lot and loop road is complete.

Footings and foundations — The contractor has completed the footings and foundations for the terminal. This also includes deep foundation work involving the installation of rammed aggregate piers to mitigate seismic and static settlement of the building.

Currently in process — Contractors are working on installing steel frames and putting walls up. Storm drain, natural gas, power and various pipeline and utility installations are in progress, according to Martin.

Next on the agenda will be the exterior framing for the terminal and interior drywall installation is anticipated to begin Aug. 17.

PVU is making changes to allow for the unprecedented growth that Utah County has experienced this past decade.

“In addition to the terminal, PVU is making changes to accommodate for future use by constructing a commercial apron (tarmac), parking lot and loop road. These projects are anticipated to be complete by the end of 2021,” according to Martin.

“The tarmac will cover approximately 40,000 square yards and provide space to service the four additional passenger gates,” Martin added.

The parking lot and loop road will provide access to the new terminal building, with the parking lot to provide approximately 400 parking spaces and pay-as-you-leave parking booths.

Martin noted that one of the more significant and cost effective parts of the construction is that the city’s own Storm Water and Streets employees have been busy at work on the project since the fall of 2019.

“These dedicated employees began by removing overgrown vegetation and trees along the airport dike road and with assistance from our own sanitation crews turned all of this material into mulch and compost to be used by Provo residents,” Martin said.

“Removal of this vegetation, along with the tons and tons of garbage and debris that had been dumped illegally along the airport dike road for decades, will allow for enhanced landscaping at the entrance to the new airport terminal and allow our maintenance crews to adequately maintain the area,” Martin added.

Following the cleanup of the vegetation and debris, the Storm Water and Streets crews went to work installing two airport moat crossings that would accommodate the construction of the newly named terminal access road, Sky Way.

The construction of these crossings included the removal of approximately 5 feet of mud from the bottom of the moat at each crossing location followed by installation of recycled crushed concrete rubble that was driven into the underlying mud to provide a stable platform upon which earthen embankment could be placed. Approximately 7,900 cubic yards of mud was removed and replaced with concrete rubble, saving Provo City $430,550.00.

“With the mud stabilization in place our Storm Water and Streets crews went to work placing earthen embankment for the new access road,” Martin said. “Through the winter of 2019-2020 and into the late spring of 2020, these crews imported over 25,000 cubic yards of dirt and placed it as the base of the new Sky Way access road saving Provo City $687,500.”

These crews are currently in the process of installing over 4,250 feet of storm drain pipe, ranging from 15 to 48 inches in diameter, to provide drainage to the entire site of the new terminal. Additionally, crews are digging and backfilling the trenches to accommodate the installation of natural gas mains being installed by Dominion Energy to service the new terminal and surrounding areas of southwest Provo.

“This work by our own crews represents a savings to Provo City of over $625,000 on the Storm Drain and approximately $105,000 on the gas main installation,” Martin said.

We’re extremely grateful for all the hard work and coordinated efforts from our Storm Water, Sanitation and Street crews. As a result of the much-anticipated airport expansion, three new routes to Denver, Tucson and Orange County have been announced, with hopes of more to come,” Martin said.

“We look forward to more destinations and a higher volume of flights coming and going. The new airport terminal will be a welcoming place for all those who come to visit or return to Provo,” Martin added.

In the meantime, other construction is going on at the airport and in the near future temporary gates will be installed for possible other flights or airlines to utilize while the terminal is being completed. The Provo Municipal Council transferred $400,000 two months ago to the airport for the temporary gates.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!