A sign showing the highway exit to the Rifle Garfield County Airport.

Airport master plan process takes flight

Scope of work and creation of a business plan are now underway

Press release
April 15, 2024

The Rifle Garfield County Airport and Armstrong Consultants, Inc., have begun the process of preparing a business plan for a new airport master plan that will guide the facility for the next decade. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that an airport master plan be updated approximately every 10 years.

Rifle Garfield County Airport Director Brian Condie told the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in a recent work session that the scope of work is now underway that represents the vision of the airport and its tenants, Garfield County, and the public, and will provide a “30,000-foot view” of the overall project.

Once complete, the proposed scope of work will go to the FAA for its review and approval, after which the master plan and business plan fee development take place, followed by an independent fee estimate, all of which are submitted to the FAA, and then the county can accept grant funding to cover costs of the project.

“The FAA has scheduled the master plan and we’ve got the request for qualifications, and we’ve completed our selection with a professional service agreement,” Condie told the board. “Now we are at the next phase, which is scope development by the airport and county, Armstrong Consultants, the public, and the commissioners.”

The scope begins with a business plan, which drives the overall master plan, and requests for information were sent to airport users to determine what clients would like to see in the document. Elements of the business plan include a strategic plan, data collection, an airport and market overview, goals, vision, values, and more.

“Everything that the elected officials and the county wants falls into either the master plan or the business plan,” Condie explained. “So, the FAA will fund the financial research on all the aeronautical capital projects, but not the public roads, so we sat down and separated these out into two plans.”

The professional service agreement (PSA) with Armstrong includes all airport master planning-related services at the airport. Condie added that it’ll be four to six weeks before final approvals of the scope of work and official start of the master planning process comes before the commissioners.

“Once the commissioners accept the grant and we have the money, that’s when the contract goes to Armstrong,” Condie said. “Once that’s signed, then we actually start with the first work session.”

The BOCC is also considering selecting up to 10-member team to form a technical advisory committee that will review documents and help oversee the master plan process.

“Whoever is on that committee must be a sharp cookie,” said Commissioner Mike Samson. “They must be committed … we need people who know what they’re doing. In-depth knowledge and expertise are necessary to make those technical decisions. I want top-notch people.”

Condie added that part of the scope is looking into growth at the airport, and that a tower may be needed to better direct traffic in the future. Other features being mulled in the master plan process include a possible second deicing pad, a potential pilot lounge and public terminal, car rental parking and staging locations, a possible helicopter complex location, a proper location for the airport beacon, and more.

“In 20 years, we may need a tower, so we want to reserve now,” he said. “We’re looking 20 years out. What’s the best location for a tower? Well, let’s identify that now and reserve that space in the master plan.”