Provo breaks ground on new airport terminal 09

Different sized planes are displayed for the Provo terminal groundbreaking Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. (Photo by Johnny Morris, special to the Daily Herald)

Wednesday morning was an exciting day that has been years in the making for a number of people in the Utah Valley community.

Provo Municipal Airport, with its current wee operations, is getting a major expansion.

Multiple business and political leaders gathered Wednesday to break ground for a new terminal at the airport, with the project targeted for completion in 2022.

The expectation is that with the expansion, up to 22 daily commercial flights could go in and out of Provo — a boon to both large and small local businesses and resident travelers. As it currently stands, the airport has few commercial flights available, which are limited to three Allegiant routes to LAX, Tucson and Phoenix, as other routes once available were stopped by the airline. With the limited routes available and the rigid dates they are flown, there’s an abundance of opportunities to grow services to residents and businesses in Utah County.

As plans for the terminal take shape, it’s clear it will have a distinct Utah Valley feel and fit the needs of our growing community — consideration has even been made for missionaries and their returns, a unique part of Utah culture that likely isn’t seen on this scale in airports outside the state. It is certainly wise though to incorporate needs like this to maximize the space and flow of the airport as it targets our community’s key needs.

Most business leaders among Silicon Slopes, and outside the state, have put great emphasis on Utah County’s need to prioritize infrastructure if we’re to successfully attract and keep a variety of businesses in the area to support our local economy.

This is where residents have seemingly been less enthusiastic, as infrastructure comes at a cost — sometimes a hefty one. Fortunately, the Provo terminal expansion will be funded by multiple means, including a $9 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, the state Legislature and Utah County.

But the airport is not the lone piece of infrastructure that needs a facelift or development. Part of it is preparing streets, sewer and transportation to connect residents and visitors to the valley’s main arteries.

Yes, even mass transit.

At the groundbreaking, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said that in a meeting with a New York City business group, they emphasized that to continue Utah’s trend of a blossoming, diversified economy, we must build infrastructure.

“Utah invests in infrastructure,” Cox said. “This is a game changer, it changes everything.”

It is projects like Utah Valley Express, FrontRunner and the airport expansion that have and continue to fundamentally change Utah County and shape our future growth — whether it’s private business, the universities or housing.

Some infrastructure obstacles have been learned the hard way; Lehi’s Interstate 15 exchange, and subsequent redesign, might as well be the No. 1 example of how Utahns likely don’t want infrastructure to shake out. Though, it seems the loss of money is the universal language for both businesses and government in motivating change to these problems.

Lack of foresight in infrastructure planning comes at a cost — and likewise, the visionary planning of new infrastructure and transportation has the ability to pour millions of dollars back into our communities and strengthen them for generations.