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A Decade in Review

Ten years ago, we welcomed the new millennium and since have witnessed many changes at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport. To ring in 2010 and look to what the future will bring, let’s review the changes the airport has undergone this past decade.

In 2002, the first major project of the decade was the addition of the Wildlife Fence which completely encloses the airport. This fence is eight feet high and has been very effective in controlling large and small animals from accessing the airfield. Additionally, access control gates were added at various points around the terminal and hangar areas.

The safety area on Runway 11L/29R was completed in 2003. This project consisted of widening the safety area on the south end of the runway, east of Crosswind Runway 2/20, in order to meet the FAA Runway Safety Area standards.

In 2004, the airport installed an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS), specifically, an AWOS III P-T. This AWOS has the following capabilities: detect wind speed, gust, direction, variable direction; temperature; dew point; altimeter setting; density altitude altitude; visibility and variable visibility; sky condition; cloud height and type; present weather; and lightning detection.

Also that year, Rocky Mountain Metro began the major undertaking of relocating Taxiway Alpha to accommodate a larger aircraft design group. The taxiway was located 250 feet from Runway 11L/29R centerline. Throughout the past six years and six phases, it was moved 400 feet from the runway centerline. The Taxiway Alpha Relocation project was completed in the summer of 2009.

Relocating Taxiway Alpha triggered other key projects at the airport. The removal of Upper Church Lake is one such project. The lake was just north of the former taxiway and needed to be drained, excavated, and refilled with other material. The elimination of Upper Church Lake not only allowed for the Taxiway Alpha relocation, but also addressed a wildlife hazard at the airport. This lake area attracted large birds and other animals hazardous to aviation and was in very close proximity to the approach end of Runway 29R.

In addition to the removal of Upper Church Lake, the Taxiway Alpha relocation generated another necessary project. A retaining wall on the approach end of Runway 11L along Highway 128, on the northwest side of the airfield, was required for the final construction phase of the Taxiway Alpha relocation. The retaining wall supports the 37,000 square foot run-up area as well as the final 1,000 feet of Taxiway Alpha. The wall was constructed in two tiers, with the lower tier standing 55 feet high and 675 feet long, and the upper wall is 15 feet high and 675 feet long. The Rocky Mountain Metro Airport logo can be viewed on the lower tier of the wall when traveling on Highway 128 or flying in the airport pattern.

Half a century ago the airport opened as Jefferson County Airport, or more commonly known as Jeffco Airport. On October 10, 2006, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners announced that the airport name would be changing to Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport. The airport had outgrown the name Jeffco Airport as the commissioners felt it projected an image of a small, remote, regional airport. The new name increases awareness that the airport is located between Boulder and Denver on U.S. Highway 36; close to the mountains, yet 20 minutes from downtown. The goal was to increase market awareness that Rocky Mountain Metro Airport is a significant contributor to the local economy and has grown exponentially with over 40 businesses on the airport and nearly 400 based aircraft.

Also in 2006, a new general aviation parking apron was completed on the northeast corner of the airfield. This new apron was another needed project as a result of the relocation of Taxiway Alpha. When the taxiway was moved to 400 feet from the Runway 11L/29R centerline, portions of the existing aircraft parking aprons were eliminated. In order to recover the lost aircraft parking sections, the Northeast Aircraft Parking Apron was constructed. Additionally during that time, all other ramps on the airport were rehabilitated.

A centralized fuel location was identified as a need at Rocky Mountain Metro and in 2007, was constructed on the northeast portion of the airport. Since the inception of the fuel farm, it has become airport policy for all new lease holders to store all bulk fuel in this location. This promotes a safer and more environmentally friendly setting at the airport.

In 2004, the FAA established certification requirements for airports serving scheduled air carrier operations in aircraft designed for more than 9 passenger seats but less than 31 passenger seats. This certification is Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 139. Airport Operating Certificates serve to ensure safety in air transportation. To obtain a certificate, an airport must agree to certain operational and safety standards and provide for such items as firefighting and rescue equipment. Rocky Mountain Metro Airport obtained the 14 CFR, Part 139 Certification in 2008 to allow for additional growth opportunities and further demonstrate the airport’s commitment to safety.

The year 2008 also brought considerable change to the northeast portion of the airport. The Northeast Grading Project entailed raising the land next to the northeast apron area to be level with the airfield. Approximately 675,000 cubic yards of soil has been relocated, which will permit aviation development next to the new northeast apron and just east of the existing corporate hangars along Metro Airport Avenue. The soil was borrowed from the site at the corner of Wadsworth Boulevard and Metro Airport Avenue, which created a new elevation level with the intersection allowing for future non-aviation development.

As we look to the next decade, the Airport Master Plan Update is one of this year’s most exciting projects. An airport master plan is essential in the ongoing process of developing the airport. Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport has not had a master plan completed since 2000 and utilized 1999 information which does not reflect the changes the airport has undergone in the past few years. A typical master plan outlines 20 years of development, however, the airport has changed a great deal over the past decade and the current master plan no longer provides the necessary vision to continue airport development.

The construction of the new air traffic control tower continues to progress. The tower is expected to be completed in the summer of 2010 and operational in the months following the completion.

This spring there will be a new road at the airport. Rocky Road will be paved and opened to provide access from Metro Airport Avenue to the fuel farm.

The airport is also performing an Environmental Assessment to ascertain what conditions will exist for the Runway 11L Safety Area to be in compliance. Additionally this year, a Wildlife Hazard Assessment will be conducted to satisfy the 14 CFR, Part 139 requirement and further promote a safe atmosphere for aircraft and animals.

Looking farther into the future, the Rocky Mountain Metro Airport is hoping to make projects such as asphalt overlays on all three runways, a new corporate taxiway to accommodate future growth on the northeast portion of the airport, and taxiway improvements a reality as the airport continues to grow and expand through the next decade.

If you have any questions or comments concerning development at the airport, please contact the Airport Development Manager, Georgiann Briggs, at 303-271-4850.

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