Final approach: $65 million OKd for renovation of Will Rogers terminal

Published: Friday, August 24, 2018 By: Brian Brus Source: The Journal Record

The city Airport Trust approved the final construction plans Thursday for $65.3 million in renovations and expansion of Will Rogers World Airport’s terminal building and related facilities.

Airports Director Mark Kranenburg said the primary goal of the project is to increase gate capacity because Will Rogers has only one leasable gate now, which limits marketability to other airlines.

The city also needs to stay on pace with the federal Transportation Security Administration’s passenger-checking processes, officials said. To more efficiently accommodate travelers, the airport will build a new security checkpoint with more space on both sides of the scanning equipment.

The Oklahoma City office of Frankfurt-Short-Bruza Associates has been contracted to design and oversee the project, which includes a new concourse, four new gates, more concessions and larger reception lobbies. As the space is designed now, passenger greeting takes place in a narrow lobby immediately adjacent to the TSA checkpoint and is split by escalators to the baggage claim area.

Rick Johnson, FSB’s chief operating officer, described the new design as something more akin to a “town square.” The design will also provide visitors with upstairs, panoramic views of the airfield with more seating space on the pre-check side of TSA.

Johnson said he felt good about the budget so far.

“As good as we can,” Johnson replied to trust members. “The tariffs and things – there are some issues we are trying to mitigate. We hired a second estimator and went through another estimating process to be sure we were comfortable with the numbers we were putting forward.

“There was a lot of discussion about the impact of tariffs,” he said of President Donald Trump’s realignment of international trade. “There’s some unknowns we have done our best to predict.”

Construction will be funded by general airport revenue bonds paid by passenger facility charges and revenue.

The trust expects to receive bids for the construction by the end of October with work beginning in the first quarter of 2019. It is the third and final phase of a plan that developed out of a long-range study conducted about 25 years ago.

Airports spokeswoman Karen Carney said the expansion plan speaks well of city leaders’ foresight decades earlier when the trust acquired plenty of land on the southwest part of the metro for future expansion.

That space is needed now, according to airport data. In June, about 208,000 passengers got on planes at the city-owned airport, an increase of 20,000, or 10.6 percent, from the same month in 2017. For the calendar year to date, Will Rogers reported an 11.7-percent increase.

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