Local News

Arizona Department of Transportation Seeks Support Grand Canyon Airport Expansion

November 17, 2014

The Arizona Department of Transportation wants to build a new terminal at the Grand Canyon Airport to replace the terminal that was built in 1965. ADOT representatives Sonya Herrera and John Nichols made the case for the expansion when they appeared before the Tusayan Town Council November 5th. They note the airport is having a difficult time handling passenger traffic during key times despite the fact that air traffic has yet to reach pre-recession levels.

They also say the terminal cannot handle modern TSA requirements and accessibility for the handicapped is also a challenge, given the building's age.

The airport also wants to drill a well to get its own water supply. That has created some controversy as the area struggles with water supplies. There are other environmental concerns about increased air traffic. Nichols maintains that airport expansion is an ‘exaggerated term.” He says ADOT’s goal is a terminal that, “Better represents Arizona.”

The new terminal would be built about 200 yards away from the existing terminal.

The presentation comes at an awkward time. Serving the airport has been a drain on the Tusayan Fire District as the airport makes no financial contribution to the district. Recently, the airport’s popular manager was abruptly fired, and then there was a dispute over a water bill at the Town Manager’s home.

ADOT is claiming much of the opposition at the City of Flagstaff centers on competition for tourist dollars.

However, the environmental concerns go well beyond regional rivalries. Alicyn Gitlan of the Seirra Club is very concerned about a new well being drilled given the limited groundwater. Gitlan said, "ADOT as a state agency should be protecting Arizona. They should not be sinking new wells that will dry up Grand Canyon and Havasupai Springs."