Airport unveils 20-year growth plan costing $241 million

Airport unveils 20-year growth plan costing $241 million

June 2nd, 2010 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

A Chattanooga airport plan unveiled Tuesday calls for a parking garage as well as expansions to the terminal to handle more passengers.

"The end result is good," said Mike Landguth, Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority president, about the 20-year plan.

The proposal, which is expected to be approved by the Airport Authority later this year, also foresees stretching the runway by another 1,200 feet, buying more property along Brainerd Road as a buffer and added hangar and business development.

"The future is bright," said Mr. Landguth about the Chattanooga area economy, citing additions such as Volkswagen's auto assembly plant and Alstom's expansion to take advantage of a nuclear renaissance.

John Naylor, the airport's vice president of planning and development, said the projects in the plan depend on triggers such as increased passenger boardings.

He said, for example, a parking garage that initially could reach 1,000 spaces wouldn't be built if boardings don't reach 350,000 annually. Currently, the airport is at about 300,000, Mr. Naylor said.

Mr. Naylor noted the plan calls for adding to the terminal so there would be more space for carriers and enhanced baggage claim areas.

A maintenance center is envisioned for current Air National Guard unit property. The Guard is moving to a new facility near Enterprise South industrial park.

AIRPORT PLAN

If the airport's master plan is totally built out over 20 years, it projects a price tag of $241 million using local, state, federal and private funds.

In addition, a divided and beautified Airport Road is included in the plan, along with a business park on the south end of the runway.

Among those attending the meeting was Jay Hopkins of Tyner, who wondered how the airport will be better linked to downtown. He cited the interest by the city in a high-speed train between airports in Chattanooga and Atlanta.

Nan Zamata, another member of the public also from Tyner, said she is concerned about increased cargo flights at the airport. She said a lot of cargo moves at night.

The plan mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration cost more than $600,000.