The rehabilitation of the Bemidji Regional Airport Terminal has been fully funded.
Airport Manager Harold Van Leeuwen reported Friday that a federal grant of $5,979,299 will allow the reconstruction with an additional local share of about 8 percent.
"It's absolutely great," said Van Leeuwen. "We had planned on doing this project over three years, but this grant will allow for it to move forward in just one year. That will save us 10 to 12 percent in construction costs and minimize disruptions to air traffic."
He said the project will also include rehabilitating the 30-year-old crash fire building situated to the east of the terminal. The reconstruction of both buildings will include geothermal heating and cooling, efficient LED lighting and energy-saving window glass. There will be a bigger waiting area in the terminal and a jet bridge so passengers don't have to walk across the tarmac exposed to the elements.
"Bemidji is really becoming a regional center," Van Leeuwen said. "It's part of this whole regional changing and growing. It's just another step in the process."
Van Leeuwen acknowledged that airports have experienced tough economic times during the last 18 months or so. But the Bemidji Regional Airport has held steady or increased enplanements. He said June enplanements were steady and July and August exceeded those month in 2007 and 2008.
"This investment will make important improvements to the Bemidji airport," said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Minn.) in a press release. "This type of project helps ensure that Minnesota's regional airports continue to be among the safest and most reliable in the nation. Our businesses and families rely on these airports to attract new businesses and connect them to the world."
"Bemidji Regional Airport is a vital economic link for the region," said U.S. Rep Jim Oberstar (DFL-8th District) in a press release. "The facility does not just cater to tourism; it is also a hub for government and business travel as well as air cargo shipments."
The new terminal is expected to be open for business in the fall of 2011.