REXBURG, Idaho (KIFI)- A critical assessment for a proposed new airport on the north side of Highway 33, west of the Snake River is in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration. City leaders have been working on the project for five years so far. Keith Davidson, the City of Rexburg Public Works Director, says “so right now, we’re just waiting for their review of the document. And if they approve the new or the alternate site for the airport, then the next step would be going through an environmental evaluation of that site.”
The environmental evaluation process alone could another couple years. The next leg in the journey is expected to take even longer, “You probably would be looking depending on funding and what’s coming from FAA, you know, designs probably another year or two,” Davidson tells us, “And then you’d be looking at construction happening probably another year or two out from that would be in probably an optimal time line.”
Davidson says the the area’s skyrocketing population growth is also raising safety concerns in the area. “As the city has grown we’ve kind of started growing out and around that airport, he says, “So there’s always issues with that as the city grows around an airport. The other thing is, is on the south end of the airport, we have Highway 33 on the north end of the airport, we have the south fork of the Teton River.”
Plans for the new airport include an expanded runway to allow for corporate and larger airplanes to come into the area. Davidson says the current airport simply doesn’t have the length of runway needed for these types of planes to land and take off in a safe manner. He goes on to say “Expanding that runway to give a longer runway for the types of airplanes that want to come in to Rexburg makes it extremely difficult for that. And so and then also getting the width needed for the safety areas. And so as you look at those different classifications of airports that we would be moving into, as we have larger and faster planes coming in to Rexburg, those safety standards are becoming increasingly difficult to meet as things grow up around the airport.”
Davidson estimates that it may be at least another ten years before a new airport is up and running.