Construction closes Hailey airport for a month
Just in time for the last skiers of the season to head home, Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey is closing today through May 17 for a major runway rehabilitation project.
Some of the pavement is 15 years old, so much of the work will involve removing cracks and leveling the asphalt. Airport leaders also say the runway shoulder will be extended, and some new lighting will be installed.
The $8.6 million project is funded by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration. The local airport authority is also contributing $1.3 million for parking lot improvements.
Ray Gadd, the director of marketing and public relations for Visit Sun Valley, says despite the closure, local hotel occupancy rates are up compared to last year — in April by 65% and in May by 114%
“There definitely looks to be some stronger visitation in April and May despite the airport closure, when we compare it to last year and the previous year," he said.
That tells him people will find a way to the valley, whether by flying into Boise or driving.
While some business owners are concerned about tourism dropping off with the closure, it’s a slow time for the area anyway. The ski resort is closed and much of the hiking and biking trails are still wet from snow, Gadd said.
Plus, the Sun Valley area is not alone in its airport pause.
“If we look at some other competitive or similar mountain town destinations, there are a few others that have an airport closure around the same time as well, so we’re not the only ones," Gadd said.
For example, Jackson Hole’s airport is closed for construction until late June.
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
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