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Staff file photo / Damage to the Chattanooga Airport roof is seen after severe wind and rain hit the area in July.
"We'll bring it back to what was put into place in 1991." — Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport CEO Terry Hart about the roof over the terminals dome

The bid to replace the damaged roof on the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport's signature dome has come in at nearly $870,000, officials said Monday.

Winning bidder MRB Contractors of Irving, Texas, is slated to be on site next week, said Terry Hart, the airport's chief executive officer. He told the Airport Authority that no local companies bid on the project, which calls for a full replacement of the copper-topped roof.

Hart said the metal-seamed roof replacement won't be copper but rather look like the material.

"The color will be copper, but not reflective," he said. When the original roof was put on nearly three decades ago, pilots complained of the reflectivity of the metal and it was treated to dull its finish.

"We'll bring it back to what was put into place in 1991," Hart said.

He said insurance will pay for the roof replacement cost except for a $10,000 deductible. He said the engineer's estimate for the roof fix had come in at $895,000.

The roof was damaged in July after "a micro-burst" of wind and rain sheered off a large section of the copper.

The original idea behind the dome was to hearken back to Chattanooga's railroad history to both local residents and to visitors who are entering a key gateway to the Scenic City.

Concerning passenger boardings, the airport had a record September, officials said. Some 48,797 people boarded a plane in the month, up 11.67 percent, according to figures.

Jim Hall, the Airport Authority's vice chairman, said Lovell Field is on course for another record year, which would be its sixth consecutive annual mark.

"Customers are confident in our service," he said. Hall cited nonstop flights, competitive air fares and convenience at Chattanooga Airport.

Airport officials said that putting up billboards in the northern Atlanta area counties is paying off.

Hart said that some Georgians are driving to Chattanooga to fly rather than face the auto traffic getting to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. He also mentioned often long lines of air travelers passing through the security checkpoints at the Atlanta airport.

Hart said the Chattanooga Airport's first three weeks in October are showing higher numbers over last year. The month that's typically Lovell Field's busiest.

Airport figures show boardings are 10.99 percent higher through September compared to the same period last year.

Hart said he expects end-of-the-year figures to top 550,000 boardings.

"We're very excited about that," he said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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