Local airports gear up for upgrades

April 15th, 2014

News Coverage:

Published: April 15, 2014 3:00 a.m.

Local airports gear up for upgrades

Vivian Sade | The Journal Gazette

Both Allen County airports will undergo construction and remodeling this summer as work gets underway on seven projects expected to be completed this year, Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority board members heard Monday.

The improvements to Fort Wayne International Airport and Smith Field will improve capacity and enhance safety, said Craig Williams, director of airport operations and facilities.

The projects include:

•The car rental parking lot at Fort Wayne International Airport will be moved and improved. The project was slated to happen last year, but bids came in double the amount of the engineer’s estimate, Williams said.

“We had to rescope the project,” he said. Original plans called for the ticket plaza to be relocated farther from the terminal near Ferguson Road, but officials decided to leave it where it was.

“That alone saved us about $1 million,” Williams said.

The $2.8 million project will be funded through car rental fees, Williams said.

The car rental lot will be moved from its current location east of the terminal near the exit to Ferguson Road to the short-term parking lot directly across from the terminal, Williams said.

“We have been hearing complaints about the location for some time, especially when passengers were returning or landing in bad weather,” he said.

The lot will include vehicle canopies, which the rental companies are paying for, Williams said. Taxis will also move to a location adjacent to the terminal, so passengers won’t have to cross the street to hail a taxi, he said. Construction will start next month and be completed in October.

•A $2.7 million federally funded access road will be a great addition to the west side of the airport, Williams said, and should be finished by fall. The road will start at Smith and Ferguson roads and continue past Indianapolis Road. It will service the businesses, airport buildings and hangars west of the terminal.

•A new fixed-base operator building, drive and parking lot will be built near the new west-access road. The buildings, commonly called FBOs, are commercial businesses granted the right by an airport to operate on the property and provide aeronautical services such as fueling, hangars, aircraft rental or maintenance or flight instruction.

Bids for the project will be selected in May or June, Williams said, so that construction can begin in July and be completed within a year.

Officials will know more about the projected cost at the completion of the design process, he said.

•Inside the terminal, airline ticket counters will be remodeled to make more room for Allegiant Air, Williams said.

Allegiant will move into United’s spot next to Delta, and United and Delta will share counter space, which will work out well, he said, because the two work together anyway. There were no official estimates on the cost, but Williams said it isn’t expected to cost more than $25,000. Construction, set to begin next month, will wrap up in June.

•Two more terminal improvements will happen this summer, including replacing another segment of the terminal roof – the third of four phases – costing $148,200. Also, three sets of revolving doors at the terminal entrance will be replaced with sliding doors that are more compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, Williams said.

•A new taxiway at Smith Field will be built and a nearby ramp will be expanded, which will allow aircraft to get off the runway quicker, Williams said. State and federal funds will pay for 92.5 percent of the project, he said, and rough estimates place the cost at $400,000, Williams said. Construction will start in July and be completed by the end of the season.

In other business, the airport has been working to get a new airline service through a northeast U.S. hub, Airport Authority Executive Director Scott Hinderman said.

Board members granted Hinderman the authority to enter into an agreement with the new air service should the opportunity arise.

The contract must guarantee at least $2 million in revenue and be legally reviewed beforehand, board members said.