Originally scheduled for completion in late April, a new segment of Airport Road was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday morning.
The new road is wider, features smoother curves, sidewalks, curbs, gutters and a clear view of the surrounding vistas.
"I'm anxious for our citizens to see it and drive on it for the first time because I know they will be pleased," said Steve Hansen, an engineering technician with the town.
The new street was constructed parallel to the old one and starts at the top of the hill on the original Airport Road. It extends west and reconnects at the west end of the airport, replacing almost a mile of the busy thoroughfare.
The project was awarded to Phoenix contractor Banicki Construction and engineered by Phoenix-based Z&H engineering.
"It's a beautiful road and we're actually ahead of schedule," said Payson Mayor Barbara Brewer. "Z&H has done a wonderful job since the very beginning. We're just so pleased at the expertise and the cooperation between the engineering firm and the town of Payson."
Payson Public Works Engineer LaRon Garrett explained that the project was good news for the community because Payson was able to replace a badly deteriorating road without spending a great deal of streets department money.
"FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is paying 95 percent of the project costs," Garrett said. "ADOT aeronautics, which is a division of ADOT, is paying 2.5 percent, and the town of Payson is paying 2.5 percent."
The town's portion will be less than $50,000.
Airport manager Ted Anderson said the road realignment provides another important benefit to the town.
"Moving the road allows room for the airport to grow," Anderson said. "We're looking at close to 40 additional acres -- that's 40 more usable acres between the road and the runway. This space will be used to relocate parking ramps and add more areas to build aircraft storage hangars."
Town officials agreed that it was refreshing to see such a project go so smoothly and cost so little.
"To me, it's nice to see some of our federal tax dollars returned and spent here in Payson," Hansen said. "Usually, it just all goes away -- it's nice to have some of it come back."