KBZK: Infrastructure bill could bring $21.7 million to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport
By: Cody Boyer
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is no stranger to growth-and now, they could be seeing millions more in dollars thanks to the infrastructure bill recently passed by the U.S. Senate.
Bozeman's airport has come a long way, from a single gate decades ago to now 12 gates and a brand new 75,000 square foot terminal.
But now with this infrastructure bill that could bring $21.7 million to just this airport alone, the director says that growth could only go up.
"This particular bill helps us keep on track and keep us moving forward," says Brian Sprenger, director of Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport.
To Sprenger, moving forward has become a theme, on the runway and off.
"We try to be ahead of the game but with this last year and the incredible growth, we are really on the edge of being behind the game right now so this will help us catch up," Sprenger says.
That's when announcements like Wednesday's, with Senator Jon Tester talking about what the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would bring to airports across Montana, strike a chord.
If it passes, $144 million would be intended specifically for Montana airports and $21.7 million of that just for Bozeman-Yellowstone.
"These dollars are badly needed to create projects because this community is growing at a very fast rate," Tester said in the address at Bozeman City Hall on Wednesday.
"If you've seen our parking lot this summer, it's at times been 98 percent full," Sprenger says. "We don't have any room until we go into the fields so we've got to look at that."
Sprenger says this bill would address that and more, from supporting flight schools for pilots, to upgrading aviation tech, along with revamping the airport's entire baggage system, which Sprenger says will be a $25 million project on its own.
"The original portion of the terminal has baggage claim and rental cars at three of our oldest gates and it's become insufficient," Sprenger says. "Gates that were designed for 50 passenger airplanes and 70 passenger airplanes make it quite crowded when you have a 180 passenger airplane."
Sprenger adds this: the airport is expecting 40 percent more passengers this summer than any other summer.
So a future terminal expansion is needed and Sprenger says this bill could certainly help.
"We're in the top five in the nation in terms of growth right now," Sprenger says. "I expect that we'll continue to be one of the fastest-growing airports in the nation for a time to come."
Again, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has still yet to be passed by the House and once it is passed through there, it still has to be signed by President Biden.