New airport terminal closer to becoming a reality

ALPENA –With each passing day the Alpena County Regional Airport is getting closer to getting its new terminal, according to officials.

At the moment, the airport’s consultant and architect firm RS&H is in the process of putting the design of the terminal together and after that is complete the required application, blueprints and legal paperwork will be submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration for consideration.

Airport Manager Steve Smigelski said the required information will be submitted to the FAA before July 1 and then it will begin to rate the project against others that are seeking discretionary funds. He said if the terminal project is approved groundbreaking could be as soon as October 2018.

Smigelski said he believes RS&H is probably about 50 percent done in the project’s design phase. He said meetings with Delta Properties and the Transportation Safety Administration need to be scheduled to iron out design details for the areas in the airport they will lease from the county. Then, he said, the finishing touches such as locations and designs of parking lots and how utilities will be moved will be put into the design before being sent to the FAA.

Smigelski said all indications point to the project being selected and if it is, the FAA will fund 95 percent of the cost while Michigan Department of Transportation and the county will each pay 2.5 percent. He said there are a lot of things about the current terminal, which was built in 1952 and updated in 1989, the FAA would like to see corrected and that bolsters the county’s odds of getting the funding.

“The age of it is definitely working in our favor, as well as the fact that the service areas for TSA are inadequate,” Smigelski said. “There is very little room in the security holding area and no bathrooms in it, so people don’t want to go in there until the last minute and then there is a big rush though the checkpoints and to the plane.”

Smigelski said rising enplanements also will be viewed favorably as well as how quickly the airport has utilized and closed out previous grants. He said there haven’t been any reprimands from the FAA and those are things that will work in Alpena’s favor.

“I have been told that we stack up very favorably and that with the needs we have we stand a great chance of getting the discretionary funds,” he said.

The FAA already has paid nearly $1 million to have the new terminal design plans made. It approved the airports request in 2016 for money for the design project and awarded it.

Smigelski said it is likely there will be two large projects going on next to one another at or near the airport. He said the construction of the new jail on the east side of the airport could overlap in part with building the terminal. He said it is likely the terminal project will begin first and it is unlikely any contractors or consultants will be affected by the work at two locations.

“The county doesn’t have to hire, the construction company will do it,’ Smigelski said. “It will post the jobs on its website and any contractors who want to bid on it can.”

The county will issue a bid for qualifications and request for proposals for the construction of the new jail, which also is still in the design stage.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.


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