Clinton County legislators this week approved bids for a $36 million expansion of the Plattsburgh International Airport terminal.
The 35,000-square foot, single jetway, Plattsburgh International Airport terminal on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base opened in 2007. In 2009, the county, which owns and operates the facility, announced it was initiating plans for a major expansion.
Airport Manager Chris Kreig explains that the terminal was originally built to accommodate 50,000 annual enplanements, but quickly outgrew those projections. Last year, 2013, our enplanements were approximately 151,000. We’ve far exceeded the ability to provide a level of service that we would like to be able to provide to the community and the region with the existing facility. So that’s necessitated the expansion.”
On Wednesday, county legislators approved bids for the $36 million expansion. During discussion prior to the vote, Area Eight Republican Mark Dame said he was pleased with the outcome of the bidding process. “This legislator is immensely pleased that these bids came in approximately $6 million under the engineer’s estimate. And is more than pleased that three out of the four general contractors are Clinton County contractors who’ll be utilitizing a Clinton County labor force. So it’s a good day in Clinton County.”
Legislative Chair Democrat Sam Dyer noted that airport committee members had toured the facility as they reviewed expansion plans. “This isn’t a controversial vote. The public is behind us. Roll call.”
The facility currently has one jet-bridge. The expansion adds two with a provision for a fourth. The terminal will nearly triple in size to about 120,000 square feet, according to Kreig.. “It’s an overall increase in the footprint of the terminal and the level of service that we can provide. We’re increasing the number of ticket counters. We’re increasing the size of the security checkpoint to accommodate additional passengers. We’re increasing the size of the baggage claim to accommodate additional flights. We’re increasing the size of the concourse, the gate areas. What’s important to note is that there’s also provisions for the construction of a customs facility integrated into the terminal to enable us to proceed with one of our goals of getting established as a customs port-of-entry so we can start handling international arrivals and departures.”
Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas is thrilled that the plans include space for customs and international arrivals. “The state, as a priority project in the Regional Economic Development competition last year, provided $4.5 million to the airport specifically for that facility. So the funding is substantially there already. It’s going to happen. By late 2016, early 2017 at the latest, Plattsburgh International will in fact be northern New York’s first actual international airport.”
A substantial number of the passengers using the airport are from the Montreal area. Douglas notes attracting Canadians was a goal from the beginning. “We positioned the new Plattsburgh International Airport as a secondary airport for Montreal and conservative projections approved by the FAA see us exceeding 300,000 enplanements as opposed to the current 150,000 in a fairly short time. And we think there are actually opportunities even bigger than that.”
The FAA must review the bids approved by the Clinton County Legislature. Once the federal agency gives approval, a pre-construction meeting will be held with all contractors. Airort manager Chris Kreig anticipates work could begin this fall or early next spring.