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Finishing touches for GFK

Workers continued Monday to put the finishing touches on the new $21 million Byron L. Dorgan Terminal at Grand Forks International Airport. The two-year construction project is nearly complete, and an invitation-only dedication ceremony is planne...

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Contractors work on the landscape and sign mounting at the new Byron L. Dorgan Terminal at Grand Forks International Airport Monday. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

Workers continued Monday to put the finishing touches on the new $21 million Byron L. Dorgan Terminal at Grand Forks International Airport.

The two-year construction project is nearly complete, and an invitation-only dedication ceremony is planned Wednesday evening, with a public open house scheduled for Thursday. The new terminal will open to passenger traffic Aug. 30.

"It's coming along," said Patrick Dame, executive director of the Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority, which owns and operates the airport. "Every day it is moving ahead substantially."

The new terminal facility has been a decade in the making.

It replaces the existing terminal, which opened in 1964 at a cost of $3 million and has undergone four separate renovation projects. Changes also were made to Airport Drive to accommodate the new terminal to the south of the current terminal building. The parking lot has been expanded as well.

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The new terminal includes touches such as the same Minnesota limestone used in the Minnesota Twins' Target Field, tile floors and large windows to let in outdoor light. And at approximately 52,000 square feet, it is also twice the size of the existing terminal.

"Air service is absolutely vital to a city and a region of our size," said Hal Gershman, president of the Grand Forks City Council and a member of the airport authority board. "For many people, the airport is the first impression they have of your community. It will speak well for our community."

The building, which was designed by Grand Forks-based JLG Architects and is seeking LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, features a geothermal heating and cooling system, energy efficient lighting equipped with sensors, low-flow toilets and automatic faucets.

"There are a lot of things that we have done to make this building energy efficient," Dame said as he gave a tour of the new facility Monday afternoon.

Seeking new service

The new terminal will open with two gates, but Dame said that the airport has the ability to add additional gates in the future.

The airport has seven daily flights to and from Minneapolis on Delta. Leisure carrier Allegiant Air also offers two weekly flights to and from Las Vegas and the Phoenix area.

Airport officials have been aggressively seeking new service for the airport and recently met with prospective carriers at a conference in Cleveland. Dame wouldn't go into specifics, but hinted that more information about additional air service might be released when the airport holds a planned news conference next week.

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"We're visiting and talking with as many airlines as possible," Gershman said. "Airlines have their own timelines. We continue to make our case. Stay tuned."

Modern amenities

The new terminal will feature an elevator, two escalators, digital flight information boards and digital signage to display airline and car rental company logos, news and entertainment programming and advertising on flat screen TVs. The TVs in the passenger boarding area also will be customized to show advertising related to passengers' destinations.

"This is state-of-the-art," Dame said. "We were building something new. Why not go to the newest, cutting-edge technology?"

Dame said the new terminal will also feature the nation's first airport restaurant offering hand-to-hand service for customers who have gone through security and for those who haven't.

Two other airports, including one in Fort Wayne, Ind., offer a turnstile that delivers food to customers on both sides of security, but the Grand Forks design will be unique, he said.

"It's going to be the holy grail of small airports," Dame said. "We've actually already had requests from at least six airports that we have sent the design to."

Schuster reports on business. Reach him at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 107, or email rschuster@gfherald.com . Follow Schuster on Twitter at @RyanSchuster.

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Julie Kidwell
Julie Kidwell, left, and Dawn Storey wipe away construction dust at the new airport terminal Monday. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

Julie Kidwell
Julie Kidwell, left, and Dawn Storey wipe away construction dust at the new airport terminal Monday. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

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