Airport expansion begins Friday

By Corene Brisendine

The expansion of the Manhattan Regional Airport will begin soon.

Airport director Peter VanKuren said a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 9 Friday morning, and construction should begin immediately.

According to the designs, construction on the first phase of the expansion should be completed by Aug. 1, 2014.

The first phase includes remodeling the ticket counters, offices, TSA screening area, secured passenger holding room, one of two enclosed passenger boarding bridges, one set of bathrooms and the lobby – which is the entire east half of the building.

The terminal should still be fully operational during construction, city officials said.

Phase one is budgeted to cost about $9.9 million.

The FAA gave Manhattan a grant for $7.9 million, and finance director Bernie Hayen said the remaining $2 million should be covered by passenger facility fees.

The Weitz Company LLC of Lenexa is the general contractor for the project.

City officials said that the need for terminal expansion became evident following the start of regional jet service to Dallas-Fort Worth. The size of expansion was determined by completing a Federal Aviation Administration-supported terminal master plan in 2011.

The number of passengers using the airport has increased annually since regional jet service began in 2009. More than 125,000 passengers used the terminal in 2012.

The expanded terminal should help accommodate passengers on American Eagle’s daily flights to Chicago O’Hare and Dallas-Fort Worth airports.

Allegiant Air is scheduled to begin twice-weekly flights to Phoenix-Mesa Airport on Nov. 7.

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