Ground has been broken for a $1.2 million airport that will serve the polygamous communities of Colorado City and other Arizona Strip communities as well as Hildale in Utah's Washington County.

"I won't believe it until there's actually asphalt under our feet," said Ron Darger of Colorado City's airport committee, whose work spans over a dozen years.The project, a joint venture of federal, state and local agencies, will build the first phase of the two-runway airport. The primary-lighted runway will span 6,300 feet, enabling small jets to land.

The first phase, which should be completed July 1, will include a hangar, aircraft tie-downs and parking. Other phases may include additional hangars.

LaDell Bistline, owner of Short Creek Aviation and future manager of the municipal airport, said the new airport is just the boon the city needs to secure economic stability by attracting business.

Mayor Dan Barlow believes the airport will open up communication and transportation lines never before available.

Colorado City, Hildale and other communities along the Arizona Strip will be greatly enhanced by improved access to medical facilities, Barlow said at Monday's ceremony.

Plans for a municipal airport began in 1978, under the direction of Mohave County, when a six-member airport board was appointed to study the site 11/2 miles west of the city.

It was not until the city took over the project from the county in 1987 that things started to move, Bistline said.