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Officials eager to get airport terminal project off ground

June 06, 2002|by SARAH MULLIN

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Construction could begin soon on a new 12,500-square-foot terminal to replace the cramped, existing terminal that Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport Authority officials say is dilapidated and inadequate, Airport Authority officials said Wednesday.

The project will go out to bid in about 10 days, the Airport Authority said.

An environmental assessment conducted by Chapman Technical Group of Saint Albans, W.Va., has been completed and the authority is awaiting approval of the assessment from the Federal Aviation Administration and the state aeronautical department, Airport Authority Chairman Rick Wachtel said. The preliminary design also is complete, he said.

"We're ready to go," Wachtel said.

The authority expects the $1.4 million project to go to bid around June 15, Airport Manager Bill Walkup said.

The new terminal/administration facility will replace a 49-year-old building that airport officials say is inadequate and run-down.

"There is no security, no ticketing, no place for people to relax, the offices are antiquated, and it's terribly inefficient when it comes to utility costs," Wachtel said.

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The existing terminal has 5,600 square feet with only 3,600 square feet of useable space, Walkup said.

The environmental assessment included evaluating possible damage to wetlands, noise concerns and any historical sites that might be on airport grounds.

Wachtel said remnants of a foundation that is part of one of the original aviation buildings will be built into the new terminal lounge area that also may be used as an aviation museum.

The airport received funding from the FAA to build the new facility after the airport moved up the ranks from a general aviation airport to a reliever airport for Washington Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Va., in March 2001, Wachtel said.

The airport may be used for air traffic heading to Dulles under emergency situations or severe weather conditions, he said.

Wachtel said the FAA has committed to $600,000 over three years toward the construction. So far, $175,000 has been used for the environmental assessment and terminal design, he said.

The Airport Authority sent an application requesting $1 million to the West Virginia Economic Development Grant Committee in charge of handing out about $200 million to be used for county commissions and county development authorities across the state for economic development, capital improvement and infrastructure projects.

Wachtel said the authority is hoping the committee will have a hearing on the request in June.

If the request falls through, Wachtel said the money will come from other sources.

The basement of the terminal has been completed as part of a separate project involving the expansion of a parking ramp for aircraft and another ramp for vehicles, and the relocation of volt and regulatory boxes that regulate runway and taxi lights, visual navigation aids, and radar, Walkup said.

The utility hookups for the terminal and airport will be in the basement, and an elevator shaft has been built with the elevator to be installed later, he said.

The $1.2 million project was funded through the federal Airport Improvement Program, which required the FAA to fund about $900,000 of the project, with state and local governments footing 5 percent, Walkup said.

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