Ford airport schedules $30M modernization project


Gerald R. Ford International Airport is served by six passenger airlines with 120 daily non-stop flights to and from 26 major market destinations. Courtesy Ford airport

Construction is slated for Gerald R. Ford International Airport to combine its security checkpoints and offer more amenities to travelers.

The new consolidated checkpoint will be located in the expanded Grand Hall area.

Brian Ryks, Ford airport executive director, said the $30-million expansion project will create an additional 59,000 square feet of space within the Grand Hall, bringing the total square footage of the space to 97,365.

“This will make the passenger screening process as efficient and streamlined as possible, and it will allow for additional growth,” Ryks said.

He noted airport passenger traffic is up 10 percent from last year and is expected to top last year’s record numbers when the year ends.

Ryks said most airports across the country created consolidated checkpoints following 9/11 to accommodate the enhanced security process.

Additional amenities

The airport will use the expanded space beyond the consolidated checkpoint to provide more amenities for travelers.

“It will allow us to expand concessions and retail beyond security,” Ryks said.

The terminal expansion project is expected to begin before the end of this year, with a projected completion date of summer 2017.

Ryks said the impact on travelers is expected to be minimal.

Alliance, from Minneapolis, and TowerPinkster are serving as the architects on the project, and Lansing-based Christman Company is handling construction management.

Runway reconstruction

Additionally, the airport is in the midst of a $3.7-million runway reconstruction project to accommodate growth in training and small aircraft activity.

The project began in July and will be completed by the end of September.

The project entails full reconstruction of the pavement and base materials beneath the 5,000-foot-long runway, which is used for training and small aircraft takeoffs and departures.

“It’s very important, because it allows the FAA to keep that smaller traffic separated from the larger traffic coming and going,” Ryks said.

He said West Michigan Aviation Academy has increased pilot training recently, increasing demand for that runway.

Prein&Newhof is serving as the engineer for the project, and the contractor is Kalin Construction Company.

Funding for projects

Money for the projects is coming from airport funds, federal and state grants and private investment.

This past Friday, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., announced Ford airport will receive nearly $4 million for the runway and expansion projects from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s FAA.

“Ensuring safe and reliable air travel is critical for economic growth and job creation,” Peters said.

"By supporting Ford airport, we're also encouraging businesses to invest in the region and create jobs,” Stabenow said.

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