GF airport terminal takes shapeWork outside the Grand Forks airport’s new terminal is within three weeks of completion, according to the airport director. Patrick Dame said the project is on track to be completed by early summer and, though there’s two more bids from contractors to go, it’s also looking like it’ll be on budget.
By: Tu-Uyen Tran, Grand Forks Herald
Work outside the Grand Forks airport’s new terminal is within three weeks of completion, according to the airport director.
Patrick Dame said the project is on track to be completed by early summer and, though there’s two more bids from contractors to go, it’s also looking like it’ll be on budget.
Still, there’s some question about how soon federal funding will come along if there’s too much fighting in Congress, following this contentious election season, he said. The terminal will likely be done in time, he said, but he’s less certain of the project to repair Airport Drive going out to U.S. Highway 2.
The $23 million Byron L. Dorgan Terminal, named after the retiring senator instrumental in winning federal funding for the project, would be more than twice as large as the existing terminal.
That’s enough room to accommodate up to 175,000 passenger boardings a year, according to Dame. He projects that the airport will achieve record boardings of 117,000 this year, straining the existing terminal. “The building is taxed; it’s maxed out.”
Groundbreaking on the new terminal was in July 2009 and it’s about three-quarters done. Driving by, you can see that the exterior of the terminal is all but complete, as is the rental car lot. Construction crews are now working on the main parking lot.
Inside, crews are sealing the building so work can continue through the winter. Many of the walls are up, though some are just metal frames, and the escalators are in the middle of installation.
Airport officials decided to build the new terminal because the existing terminal, besides being small — it’s smaller than the Minot airport terminal — it’s also troublesome to maintain. A high water table keeps the basement moist and mold-prone while the leaky roof, patched together through three building expansions, is hard to fix.
The new terminal, though it’d be bigger, would cost about the same or less to maintain, Dame said.
Here’s what else to expect in the new terminal:
- The area for passengers waiting to board would be more than four times. There would still be just two boarding bridges, but there’s room to add more if more airlines come along. Delta Air Lines and Allegiant Air now provide service.
- A large baggage handling area that would be more efficient, meaning baggage could be loaded and unloaded faster. Conveyor belts will also be longer so more passengers can pickup their baggage.
- The airport is working to win Transportation Security Administration approval to have the restaurant be capable of serving both sides of the security cordon. Dame said this is a “holy grail” for small airports that can’t afford to have workers on both sides. If Grand Forks succeeds, it’d be the second airport in the country with the feature.
- There would be more room for security screening. The TSA could have two screening lines instead of one, Dame said, and add new scanning technology, including the full-body scanners coming to Grand Forks, Fargo and Bismarck. All TSA workers would also be in the same building instead of spread out between the terminal and the FedEx maintenance building as they are now.
- Energy-efficiency features will keep costs down. The terminal will use a geothermal heating system that pumps up heat from underground. A heating system under the floors at the entrance would keep them dry despite visitors tracking in snow from outside. Better insulation and airtight walls will keep the heat inside where it belongs.
- The airport authority would also be housed in the terminal instead of a separate building as it is now. Dame said he’s not sure what will happen to the building, half of which will remain in use by airport firefighters. The other half could be rented out or demolished, he said.
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