Design would double size of Tri-Cities Airport

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 11, 2013 

Passengers may one day be able to walk into the Tri-Cities Airport terminal and immediately see the airfield through a curved glass wall that's part of a new concourse.

That area, where passengers can wait for planes to arrive and enjoy concessions, is part of the proposed $32 million to $36 million airport terminal expansion.

The final concept design presented by consultant Mead & Hunt on Thursday doubles the size of the Pasco airport's terminal from almost 55,000 to 110,000 square feet.

Tim Dacey, project manager for Mead & Hunt, told Port of Pasco commissioners that the terminal already was too small in 2011. The proposed expansion is meant to meet needs now and in the next 20 years and to make future expansions easier.

"It is a gateway to the Tri-Cities region," said Kris Watkins, Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau president and CEO.

The building is the first and last impression visitors receive of the Tri-Cities, she said.

The footprint of the proposed remodel looks like a capital letter J, while the current terminal looks more like an upside down capital T.

When passengers walk in, they will be able to immediately see ticketing to their right, queuing for the security checkpoint ahead and be able to see the concessions and public area in the concourse beyond security, said Matt Dubbe, market leader for Mead & Hunt. Baggage will be to their left.

In the ticketing area, the kiosks for electronic check-in will be against the front wall of the building, with circulation space in between the kiosks and the queue for ticketing, Dacey said.

Moving the staircase and restrooms to the front of the building will open the area near the security checkpoint, Dacey said. There will be enough room for up to four lanes for security. Currently, two lanes are used, but a third may be added soon.

Past the security, there will be a curved glass wall with a view of the airfield. Gates are to the right and left.

As passengers head to baggage claim, a meet and greet area offers concessions and seating.

Mead & Hunt has been working on the design concept since March. The expansion need was identified in the port's recent master plan.

Design and bidding likely will take the rest of the year, according to the consultants. Construction could start in 2014 and take about two years. Phasing may be used.

The consultants used a video to show how the remodel could be accomplished while allowing the terminal to remain open.

The video showed how a temporary baggage space would be created to allow the remodel of that portion of the building. Construction then would begin for the western half of the future concourse, leaving the eastern end of the current concourse in operation, Dacey explained. Once that is complete, the rest of the concourse could be finished. The last piece would be the ticketing area and restoring the facade.

Commissioners will discuss how to pay for the expansion at their Feb. 14 meeting.

-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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