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St. George needs a new airport, so the announced plan of the U.S. Department of Transportation to “fast track” the project comes as welcomed news.
The proposed replacement airport is needed because the old one that sits atop a confined mesa is too small and there’s little room for expansion. It’s needed because the population of Washington County is exploding and additional air service is essential to accommodate passenger demand. And it’s needed to sustain economic growth and boost the vitality of the region.
Of course, the government’s decision to fast track the approval process doesn’t mean the new airport to be built five miles southeast of St. George is a done deal. Legitimate questions about the project’s environmental impact need to be resolved. It is especially important to satisfy the concerns of some who fear aircraft noise will adversely affect nearby national parks.
Officials say the project’s priority status will allow federal agencies to work more closely together to resolve these tough issues. It will, they contend, reduce some of the logjams that typically plague Uncle Sam’s vast bureaucracy.
Frankly, we’ll believe it when we see it. Still, it’s a positive sign the citizens of Utah’s fastest growing area may soon have a new airport to meet their burgeoning needs.