Airport Expansion Planned $100 Million Project to Double Capacity

By Scribner, Chris | The Florida Times Union, April 8, 1999 | Go to article overview

Airport Expansion Planned $100 Million Project to Double Capacity


Scribner, Chris, The Florida Times Union


Airport officials are ready to unveil a plan Tuesday that they say would handle nearly twice the present number of passengers at Jacksonville International Airport and speed baggage delivery.

Construction for the first phase of the $100 million-plus terminal expansion, which will reshape the airport to handle growing traffic for the next decade, should begin next year, officials said.

Airport officials have refined their original planning for the project to retain recent changes at the airport, such as the single security checkpoint and improvements to the center courtyard.

The new plan will call for improvements to the terminal and two larger concourses with about 30 gates. The plan will also include a design that funnels all passengers through the single checkpoint, added last summer, and the newly renovated courtyard, where the bulk of the airport's shops are located.

The planned first-phase expansion might not add many passenger gates but does set the stage for further expansion without major disruption.

The new plans call for two concourses fanning out from the existing center courtyard. The current layout has three smaller concourses. Future growth could be met by adding satellite concourses that could be attached to the courtyard by extended walkways.

An expanded terminal should also allow for faster baggage delivery, said Chip Snowden, director of operations for the Jacksonville Port Authority's aviation division. Service levels are as fast as possible given the current configurations, Snowden said.

The first phase of the three-phase 25-year expansion project is designed to handle about 8 million passengers, which means it should be adequate for about 10 years, said Bob Molle, the manager of the expansion project.

This year, the airport will handle close to 5 million travelers. Passenger traffic is growing at just under 10 percent this year, and last year the Jacksonville was the fourth-fastest-growing airport among the nation's 50 largest airports.

Once the port committee and the airlines approve the plans, Jacksonville-based Reynolds, Smith & Hills can begin its work on the design of the terminal and the new concourses.

The construction shouldn't cause major service inconveniences, officials said.

Revenue bonds and airport passenger taxes are the proposed methods to finance the construction, said Ray Van Landingham, the port's chief financial officer.

The plan to be presented next week involves a redesign of the primary concepts developed by Leigh Fisher Associates in 1996, several of which called for sending passengers through multiple checkpoints. …

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