Airport gets millions for new terminal
LINDELL KAY – DAILY NEWS STAFF 2012-09-22 11:42:19
Albert J. Ellis Airport has received a $13.5-million Federal Aviation Administration grant to construct a new terminal.
The grant, in the amount of $13,582,396, will fund the redevelopment of passenger facilities, Airport Director Chris White said.
“This is an exciting day for Onslow County and aviation in Eastern North Carolina,” he said. “The construction of this first-class terminal and related facilities will not only elevate the image of Onslow County, but will provide opportunities for expanded air service, additional jobs and will be a source of pride for our community.”
The Onslow County Board of Commissioners accepted the grant during a special meeting Friday. Chairman W.C. Jarman expressed gratitude for the efforts that went into the grant process.
“This is one of the largest grants ever received by Onslow County,” he said. “A lot of time and hard work went into receiving this grant from the FAA. We appreciate everything that the airport staff, board members, and Congressman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., have done on behalf of Onslow County, its citizens and the travelers to our area who will benefit from the improvements made to the Albert J. Ellis Airport.”
The grant is the fourth, and largest, in a series to fund the design and construction of a new passenger terminal building and related facilities at the state’s fastest growing commercial airport. Previously, the FAA had provided $11,607,425 in design and construction grants for the terminal area redevelopment program.
The N.C. Transportation Department has also announced a grant of $450,000 this year as a part of a multiyear commitment to the airport’s development program.
The existing terminal originally opened in 1971 and was expanded several times in the following decades to its current 35,000 square feet. The current terminal has an estimated annual capacity of 107,000 boardings, but in 2011 the airport hosted more than 170,000 boardings. Problems with the current building coupled with changes in the industry, local growth and advancements in efficiency and technology led officials to begin an effort several years ago to replace and relocate the existing terminal building.
The new terminal will enable the airport to accommodate new security equipment that was mandated after Sept. 11, 2001, and will enhance passenger flow and baggage handling capabilities for the growing number of military and civilian passengers who use the airport. Construction is expected to begin in December and take 18 months to complete, according to the FAA.
The new two-story terminal will feature more than 56,000 square feet of passenger and operational space with expanded screening, waiting and boarding areas. Second level boarding via covered jet bridges, new concessions, and other passenger amenities commonly found at modern airports will be offered in the terminal, White said.
The terminal was designed to reflect the coastal elegance and heritage of Onslow County and is expected to display locally created artwork as well as items of historical significance. In addition to a significant improvement in energy efficiency, the new building was designed to meet projected demand through 2020 with provisions for cost effective expansion, White said.
The cost of the entire terminal area redevelopment program is estimated at $37.5 million with the largest share going to the terminal building, which is estimated to cost $22 million. Other costs include road and airfield paving at $6.6 million, baggage and passenger loading equipment at $2.4 million and replacement of other aging facilities that must be relocated to make way for the new terminal and roadways at $6.5 million. Funding for the program is provided by several sources including the FAA at $24.3 million; the NCDOT at $1.3 million; the TSA at $1 million; and locally generated funds such as passenger facility charges, contract facility charges, airport revenue and other local matching funds. It is anticipated that no local ad valorem tax dollars will be needed to fund this project, according to county officials.
The FAA funding is provided by the Airport Improvement Program. The program is funded by the Aviation and Airways Trust Fund which generates its revenue from user fees and airline ticket taxes.
Ellis Airport recently completed another record breaking year. In 2011, OAJ was the fastest growing commercial airport in the state for the second straight year when more than 344,000 passengers used the airport. NCDOT and N.C. State University recently completed an economic contribution study that found that the airport provides 340 jobs and had an estimated impact of $191 million on the economy.
The airport is located between Jacksonville and Richlands on N.C. 111. Owned and operated by Onslow County, OAJ is served by Delta Air Lines and US Airways with direct jet service to hubs in Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington, D.C.
For more information, contact the Albert J. Ellis Airport at 910-324-1100 or visit flyoaj.com.
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