- Associated Press - Monday, March 9, 2015

HAILEY, Idaho (AP) - A central Idaho airport that serves the resort areas of Sun Valley and Ketchum will be closed to all flights for nearly a month due to construction.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports (https://bit.ly/1KLJZaI) that Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey will shut down starting in late April so work can be done to make the facility safer and put it into compliance with federal safety regulations.

The newspaper based in Ketchum reports that the closure starting April 26 is scheduled to last to May 20. It’s part of a $34 million construction project.

“If you want to fly (commercially), you’re going to have to go to Twin Falls or Boise,” airport Manager Rick Baird said.

Hailey is about 12 miles south of Ketchum and Sun Valley. Twin Falls is about 80 miles south, and Boise about a 150 mile drive away.

The work at the airport stems from safety concerns at the Federal Aviation Administration. Officials said they wanted the airport improved or moved because expanding residential areas and high hills that parallel the airport make the current airfield too dangerous for larger aircraft.

In 2013 the agency gave approval to the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority to pursue those two possible paths to improve safety.

A plan to move the airport south stalled when expenses soared to more than $300 million, so plans to make the current airport safer are moving ahead. The upcoming closure of the airport is part of that work.

While it’s closed, workers plan to reconfigure airplane taxiways, demolish six private plane hangars, and continue expanding and remodeling the terminal. The parking lots will also be altered.

“It would be a lot easier and you’d get in and out of the airport with less driving,” said Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen, who is also a member of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority board.

Work at the airport is scheduled for the relatively light tourist time after winter skiing slows and before summer recreation crowds start arriving at the mountain resort towns.


Information from: Idaho Mountain Express, https://www.mtexpress.com

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