Path Toward an Estimated $18.5 Million New Airport Terminal Likley to be Component in Master Plan

By Jeff Toquinto on August 21, 2017 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

It’s been discussed for years, and for those thinking it’s simply pie in the sky may want to know that preliminary planning is already taking place for what could be a multi-million project in Bridgeport.
 
As part of the upgrading of the North Central West Virginia Airport’s Master Plan, more than $1 million in upgrades and expansion to the existing terminal building will likely be included, which would still need to be approved by the Benedum Airport Authority. However, the plan will also look well into the future and include the very real possibility for the construction of a new terminal off State Route 279.
 
Rock said during last week’s meeting of the Airport Authority (the airport’s governing body) that it looks obvious what the soon-to-be-prepared Master Plan is going to say.
 
“It’s going to tell us what we already see,” said NCWV Airport Director Rick Rock. “We’re really outgrowing this terminal.”
 
Rock said a very early estimate has a new terminal costing in the range of $18.5 million. The price would include design, permitting, earth work, infrastructure and the actual building itself. That could mean nearly $20 million in terminal-related projects alone in the next decade.
 
Early planning shows a new terminal covering 35,000 square feet. It will be situated on one floor.
 
The key to make it work, as is the case with most projects, is on the financial front. While the NCWV Airport financial reports are reported to be solid, the type of money needed isn’t available right now. The good news is Rock and others think it can be available over a number of years and may not require dollars being contributed from other government agencies to make it work.
 
The airport could use Airport Improvement Project (AIP) dollars it receives to the tune of roughly $1 million annually from the FAA. But that won’t cover all the costs. Still, Rock said they have solid revenue streams in place to avoid hitting up local government.
 
“We have to create good financial plan and determine the time frame needed to get it done. Unless a big pile of money falls into our laps, it’s going to be likely between five to 10 years,” said Rock. “This is legitimate and it’s something that when we run the numbers it’s doable. It’s doable, though, much closer to that 10-year period.”
 
The new terminal discussion goes back into at least the early 2000s. Now, it’s being revisited seriously as the airport for the first time in years actually has issues with space during certain flight times. Those same issues will likely lead to work on the existing terminal.
 
Rock and board members said that the Master Plan will require the airport to address immediate needs with the current terminal. That terminal could be utilized in a different capacity if a new one is built years from now.
 
“We have immediate needs and there is no doubt about it,” said Rock. “We want something functional and our growth is at point where this building has almost outgrown its functionality.”
 
During the meeting, Rock talked preliminary numbers to renovate the existing terminal. The cost would involve an estimated $200,000 plus for renovations to the second floor and more than $1 million to expand and renovate the first floor. A large part of the cost would involve the installation of a complete sprinkler system to the building that would be required in an expansion as it would eliminate the grandfather clause the building currently has in place on a sprinkler, officials said at the meeting.
 
One of the biggest components of renovating the existing terminal is to have a waiting area on the second floor in a non-secured area. Currently, the secured area holds roughly 150 individuals and the new Allegiant planes that are coming in for flights to and from Orlando and Myrtle Beach have capacity at 186.
 
“There have been a few times where a flight has been delayed and you end up with passengers from both flights and you are slammed with people,” Rock said during the meeting. “This new area on the second floor would be an area where people could wait for others leaving or departing or even those waiting before going through security.”
 
The renovations could also include new offices for airport staff. Also, space that could be rented for meetings would be made available on the second floor.
 
The renovations mentioned aren’t etched in stone. Authority President Ron Watson asked Rock to email the recommendations and other information to Board members for further discussion. It’s not yet known if talk on renovation, or a new terminal, will be included on the September agenda of the Airport Authority.
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Rick Rock, left, going over preliminary plans with Authority member David Hinkle, middle, and Ron Watson. Bottom photo shows the plans being looked at during last week's meeting.


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