The second phase of an expansion and renovation project at the Sheridan County Airport is set to begin next summer. This comes as the demand for air travel in Sheridan County continues to grow.
The original part of the existing terminal building dates from the early 1950s and has been built onto several times over the past 70 plus years. The first phase of the project was completed last year with the remodeling of a screening facility and hold room.
Airport Manager John Stopka said that several needed upgrades will be part of the second phase to better accommodate passengers.
“We’ll do a new ticket counter, new rental car counters, and we’re also moving those into some new locations to try and open up the building a little bit more,” he said. “It’s fairly crowded in there.”
A new luggage carousel and improvements to security are also part of the project plans.
Air travel has experienced a significant decline during the pandemic. While Sheridan may not have been affected as much as some airports have been, there was a decline in 2020. Official airport statistics indicate that April-June of 2020 had the fewest passengers. Only 121 total revenue passengers were counted in April 2020. Since then, passenger figures have steadily risen and continue to show strong signs of growth.
Stopka feels that the airport will finish out the year strongly due to the number of ticket purchases that have been made.
“December is booking really well, we should see just over 23,000 enplanements [by the end of the year], which is the highest enplanements we’ve had going all the way back to the year 2000,” he said.
The cost for the second phase of the project is estimated at approximately $2.46 million. Bids are set to take place in February with expansion work scheduled for the summer. Renovation operations are set to begin in the fall.
The vast majority of the funding will come from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which will likely chip in about $2.31 million of the total costs. Wyoming Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics has chipped in $92,422, with the remaining funds being provided by the airport’’ current fiscal year budget.
In addition to more space and providing a better overall passenger experience, the security infrastructure is set to be upgraded as well. Stopka said Sheridan is unique in that it doesn’t currently have an X-ray machine to scan bags.
“Right now, we’re one of those airports that TSA hand-checks your luggage,” he says. “We are on a list now to receive that new equipment—it’s a CT-80 machine. It’ll work out just fine with our renovation plans and construction plans.”
To minimize disruptions, Stopka hopes that much of the work can be done in the evenings.