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Green Light is Given by Airport Authority to Director to Move Forward on $1.3 Million Terminal Project

By Jeff Toquinto on September 22, 2017 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

For the first time in years, a problem the North Central West Virginia Airport is having with the number of passengers is actually a good thing. And earlier this week, the Benedum Airport Authority gave Airport Director Rick Rock the green light to get started on a seven-figure effort to alleviate it.
 
The Authority, the airport’s governing body, gave Rock the authority to begin up to a $1.3 million expansion and renovation of the Benedum Terminal building. The renovations, when complete, could accommodate as many as 400 passengers Rock told the Authority during Wednesday’s meeting held at the RCBI facility at the Benedum Industrial Park.
“I can’t tell you when exactly it will be done, but I can tell you the goal is to have everything done by the beginning of the summer of 2018,” said Rock “We’re putting this on the fast track.
 
“We want to make sure we address the issue and do it right,” Rock continued. “If you’re going to have a problem, this is the problem to have.”
 
The existing holding area for passengers holds up to 171 passengers, Rock said. It comfortably holds 140. At times, when Orlando and Myrtle Beach flights have had passengers in the building at the same time the number becomes too cramped.
 
Many times the number of passengers was at 143 thanks in part to Allegiant utilizing a larger aircraft (the Airbus320) that holds 183 passengers. And with the upcoming startup of daily service through SkyWest under the United Banner to Chicago and Washington, D.C., those numbers are expected to increase.
 
Rock provided options that included leaving things as is as well as a double wide addition to the building. Rock said that doesn’t support the image the airport is trying to create in the building.
 
Changes will be made to the first and second floors of the building. The Authority also requested Rock look for ways to save money, if possible, during the project.
 
“You better have a comfortable terminal and you better have comfortable passengers. How many more chances of schedule (daily) flight service are you going to have,” said Airport Engineer Chad Biller of the Thrasher Group, referring to the arrival of SkyWest in the near future.
 
The renovations aren’t a new concept. They were discussed in detail at the last two meetings along with plans for a new multi-million dollar terminal on the Route 279 side of the airport. However, in order to get FAA approval for a new terminal, passenger number projections in the soon to be done master plan update will have to show the need is justified to do a project that is still likely years down the road.
 
Long-time Authority member Roger Diaz said it’s better to do this now to make sure things are being done correctly.
 
“We need to accommodate our own needs now and it will tell us what our needs will be two to three years from now,” said Diaz.
 
The terminal project would be fund by AIP (Airport Improvement Project) funding through the FAA, said Authority President Ron Watson.
 
“We have the funds to the addition to the existing terminal,” Watson said.
 
Also on Wednesday, the Authority heard a presentation from Roy Hall. Hall, of Bridgeport, asked about utilizing a few tracts of airport-owned property to be included in the City of Bridgeport’s Urban Deer Hunt program. A motion was approved to allow Rock to create a plan for deer hunting. 
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Rick Rock going over parts of the proposed terminal renovation,while Authority members Andy Lang, left, and Roger Diaz discuss it in the second photo. Engineer Chad Biller is shown in the third photo Bottom photo shows Roy Hall discussing hunting deer on airport-owned property.


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