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St. George breaks ground on new airport site



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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- Construction of a long-planned new airport for St. George is under way.

Business leaders along with state and local government officials held a groundbreaking party Friday to kick off construction. The 1,400-acre, $175 million project has been 20 years in the making, stalled by land disputes and environmental concerns.

"It was not an easy thing to get here," said St. George Mayor Dan McArthur, who estimated the delays added about $80 million to project costs.

"But that's all behind us now," he said.

The airport is being build about seven miles southeast of St. George. It's expected to open in November of 2010, replacing the current airport, which sits atop a mesa near downtown.

"Commerce is going to go up greatly with this airport and, as unbelievable as this sounds, this area is going to go up greatly in value," said Utah's Republican U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, who attended the ceremonies.

St. George secured about $90 million from the federal government to help pay for the new airport. Another $17 million in FAA funds has already been spent for land purchases at the site.

The old site will be sold to a developer for $43.9 million. It will eventually be redeveloped with trails, parks, a variety of residential and commercial properties.

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Information from: Deseret News

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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