SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a project years in the making. Upgrades for the airport in New Mexico’s capital are planned to make way for more passengers. However, it’s seen some challenges.

Construction began in February 2022 on the $22 million worth of upgrades at the Santa Fe Regional Airport. It was supposed to be done this past January, but now the estimate is December of 2023. On top of supply chain issues and staffing shortages, workers ran into some other problems.

“When you start digging, you start finding things. In the parking lot area, once we dug up the old parking area, we found a lot of abandoned utility lines that were not supposed to be there,” said Santa Fe Regional Airport Manager James Harris.

Harris said the first phase will add about 700 parking spaces, a new terminal, and revamp the taxiway. Currently, the airport’s one terminal accommodates around 360 passengers across seven flights a day. Harris mentioned the second terminal will accommodate more flights for the two existing airlines, and possibly make way for another.

“We’ve got to grow for the future. Right now, we’re boarding full flights, and as the airlines try to add more flights, we have to grow with those flights,” said Harris.

The project’s second phase will expand the terminal adding up to five gates and more seating. Though Harris acknowledges the construction can be inconvenient, he added it won’t affect their services.

Harris shared, “I just like to tell people, ‘Just understand that we’re under construction, so things aren’t ideal right now, but we’re working to make it better, and we’re hoping that we don’t have any more delays, and we can continue operating properly.'”

Funding for the project comes from city, state, and federal money.