Airport panel to tackle terminal expansion

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2004

A Juneau International Airport expansion panel appointed to satisfy airport tenants who felt excluded from the plans failed to attract a quorum at its first meeting Thursday.

In March of 2003, tenants asked the Juneau Airport Board to reject a terminal feasibility study because they said the consulting firm left them out of the process. The board appointed 18 people to participate in its new terminal master plan.

The team met for the first time on Thursday but only seven members showed up.

"We need to have 10 people to have a quorum," Airport Manager Allan Heese said. "They can still have a meeting but they cannot make decisions."

The project is intended to move passengers more smoothly, meet security standards and generate more revenues, among other goals. The existing terminal is more than 50 years old.

Catherine Wilkins, city project architect, said it is important to have all shareholders in the committee.

"This is a consensus-building process," Wilkins said. "We want to have everybody on the committee so everybody knows what's going on from the very beginning."

Joseph Barden, an aviation planning consultant, said his company will take a different approach from the previous consulting company. He said he will contact every committee member for feedback. Barden said he won't dismiss the previous study as useless because it includes a lot of useful information.

His consulting firm will help committee members identify the broad range of issues raised in the first study, prioritize the issues and eventually move the projects to design and construction stages.

"Solving passenger processing deficiencies at the terminal will be the top priority," Barden said. "You don't want to go through the securities again to get a banana. And there isn't enough space for security screening."

Barden said committee members should study the airport's current space and infrastructure.

"You don't build your way out of a problem. You need to utilize your current space," Barden said.

The new consulting firm also takes a different approach to the financial planning of the terminal expansion project. Heese said the board thought the first study's proposals were too costly.

Barden's firm will first examine how much money the airport can get and prioritize various expansion projects.

Ella Rogers, general manager of Glacier Restaurant and Lounge, said she hopes the airport can become a more user-friendly and viable place through the committee's collaboration.

• I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.



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