PROVO — With funding from the Utah Legislature approved late Thursday, Provo Municipal Airport's new terminal project is now fully funded.
Building the four-gate terminal is estimated to cost about $41 million, and now that all funds are secured, the city could break ground this fall and cut the ribbon as early as 2020.
Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said she was "beyond excited" about the Legislature's approval.
“This landmark decision stands to impact our region in a positive way for decades to come," she said in a news release. "A number of legislators were key on this, but none so much as (House Majority Leader) Francis Gibson, who really championed this effort from its early stages through the final hours of the session when the funding came through."
The state money came through SB268, which authorized existing bond money to be used for a number of transportation projects across the state, including $9 million for the Provo airport. It was introduced late in the session on March 8 and sponsored by Gibson, R-Mapleton.
The Legislature was at an impasse over the budget earlier this week due to tax reform, raising worries that the money might not be approved. The initial bill asked for $1.6 billion in new bonds, but was amended in the Legislature's final hours to remove that request.
"We could get caught up with a lot of other funding requests in that battle," Isaac Paxman, Provo deputy mayor, said earlier in the week.
He added that most lawmakers support the project.
"There's great support from everyone that we've been able to talk to, there's a lot of hope and a lot of momentum for this project especially now that we've got the county funding piece in place," Paxman said. "That to us seems to signal that the legislators recognize this is a rare opportunity to boost the economy and the convenience and quality of life by helping us get a four-gate terminal in Provo."
Utah County commissioners approved $4.3 million in funding Tuesday.
“I’m thrilled that the county commissioners have thrown their enthusiasm and their financial support behind this project,” Kaufusi said after that vote. “The decision to fund this terminal is the kind of forward-looking action we need."
The remaining funds come from an estimated $8 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration and about $19 million in dedicated funds from the city.
Days before the legislative session ended, Provo officials were keeping their fingers crossed the money would come through.
"We think all signals are that this could still happen in these last couple of days, so we're very hopeful for it," Paxman said Tuesday. "The good news for us is that in every proposal we've heard of that includes discretionary funding, the airport money is included."
The new terminal would bring in an annual economic impact equivalent to $15 million, according to a news release from the city.
The influx of flights, hotel stays, car rentals and jobs will boost the economy, the release continued.
Paxman noted the benefits aren't just for Utah County.
"This would have a statewide impact — it would help keep cars off of I-15 around Point of the Mountain, it would boost tourism to the state and boost the economy," he said.
He also said the city will accelerate construction in any way it can within budget restraints.9 comments on this story
"As airlines have been showing an increase of interest, we really sense that this is the type of project you don't want to drag out over three years, you want to get moving," he noted.
The amount of governmental support the project received is relatively rare, Paxman said.
"It's not often you see a city, a county, a state and the federal government all contributing toward one project in this kind of a way," he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the airport was part of a bill that would issue $1.6 billion in new bonds. The bill was amended to fund the projects with existing bond money.