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"Santa Fe Municipal Airport improvement project makes sense"
Monday, June 19, 2017
Airport improvement project makes sense
The Santa Fe (NM) New Mexican
Improvements to the Santa Fe Municipal Airport? Absolutely. Expanding the
airport's capacity for passengers - most likely through a new terminal - makes
The process is in its early stages, which gives all airport users, concerned
citizens and other interested parties time to weigh in. Right now, the city is
considering a $35 million proposal to build a new passenger terminal and
improve roads, parking and airport parking ramps. Funding sources could include
a mix of state, federal and city dollars, but nothing is set in stone.
Airport officials are in the process of showing other city leaders the changes
that are being considered. Last week, the City Council's Public Works Committee
heard a briefing; we expect to hear more about the terminal plans in the weeks
and months ahead.
The focus on better airport facilities is a smart one, for several reasons. As
we have said before, the public-private partnership to increase flights into
Northern New Mexico is good for our economy. This is the sort of investment in
long-term economic development that will make Santa Fe a better place to live
and work, as well as benefit all of the north.
Mayor Javier Gonzales and his team, supported by the City Council, understand
that bolstering the economy isn't done best at a news conference or with flashy
announcements. There is the smart but often slow work of improving
infrastructure, supporting transportation hubs and, generally, making it easier
for folks to communicate and move around.
It only makes sense to have a city and region that is easy for travelers to
reach, whether they be vacationers, film industry workers or our own citizens
leaving for world travels or to visit grandchildren in Phoenix. Who wouldn't
rather drive 10 minutes to catch a plane than have to take the interstate to
get to the Albuquerque International Sunport?
Using the municipal airport, though, only will make sense if flights are
convenient - and that includes everything from departure times to parking and
getting in and out of the terminal. The expansion plans, if done right, could
improve the traveling experience and attract more passengers.
Kudos to members of the airport and city staff who are beginning the planning
process for these important changes to the airport. A new terminal could be
placed on a site on the east end of the airfield, with the current terminal
remodeled and used for administrative offices, a conference room and a viewing
So far, so good, but the plans need careful scrutiny and thought as the city
begins this process. Citizens have to be kept up to date (already, some are
writing with concerns about expansion; in Santa Fe, everyone has an opinion,
and that's a good thing).
The airport produces some $78 million in economic activity and supports about
680 full-time jobs. Its continued success matters to all of Northern New
Mexico. Smart planning now will pay dividends in the future.
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