Rexburg’s municipal airport may be expanding to accommodate commercial flights. This potential project could help fuel Rexburg’s steady growth and attract new business and industry into the area.
The City of Rexburg has been experiencing a steady increase in population over the last few years, due in large part to the conversion of Ricks College to BYU–Idaho. Earlier this year, BYU–I announced plans to increase enrollment to 15,000 students per semester.
The projected growth of the university and the city have given life to the idea of expanding Rexburg’s airport to sport commercial flights, giving students and local residents direct flight access to and from the city.
The Rexburg-Madison County airport is most known for its air museum and annual summer air shows.
Currently the airport’s services are limited to private and recreational aircrafts. In order to allow a commercial plane access, a runway long enough to cross the Teton River would need to be built, according to city officials.
However, the idea of expanding the airport has produced more questions than answers. According to past city council agendas and minutes, the most prevalent concern is the feasibility of operating a local airport when the Idaho Falls Regional Airport is less than 30 minutes away.
“I [wouldn’t] even use the Idaho Falls airport, let alone if there was one in Rexburg. It’s usually cheaper to drive down to Salt Lake and fly from there,” said Rhett Morris, a sophomore from Arizona.
Other students are more open to the idea of flying directly into and out of Rexburg.
“Being able to fly out of Rexburg would be cool, but what I want to know is how much it would cost,” asks Micah Zabriskie, a senior from Kentucky.
Students and residents who live on or near Pioneer Road and other neighborhoods surrounding the airport have also expressed concern about the noise resulting from increased air travel and larger planes.
One proposal brought to the city council was to relocate the airport outside of the city. However, that idea is not possible at this time since the city’s airport is currently maintained by contractual funds from the Federal Aviation Administration. Closing down and relocating the airport would mean that the city would have to repay those funds to the FAA.
President Kim B. Clark expressed his sport for the expansion of the airport in a recent interview with the Rexburg Standard Journal He said that the increased accessibility to Rexburg would not only attract new business and industry, but it would also enable Church leaders to visit the BYU–I campus on a more regular basis.
The cost, feasibility and likelihood of expanding the Rexburg airport is still being studied by the city’s airport board and planning and zoning committee.