Airport expansion nears completion

Published on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 by Steve Guntli

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After nearly three years of construction, the expansion of Bellingham International Airport is nearing completion. 

The lengthy expansion process began in November 2010, and Daniel Zenk, director of aviation for the airport, says he expects the construction will be completed by February 2014. The estimated price of the construction is $38 million. 

“It’s been a tremendous project to conquer,” Zenk said. “But we staged it so we could still operate efficiently in the interim.”

The first phase of the expansion focused on the construction of a new boarding gate facility and was completed in June 2011. The new gate has a 650-passenger capacity and brings the single-runway airport to a total of five gates.

The second phase, in process since May of 2012, is nearing completion. The focus of the second phase has been to expand the main passenger area, which will be almost three times its original size when construction is complete.

The new additions will include two new baggage carousels. The first carousel was completed in April, and the second is expected to be finished by the end of the year. The ticket counter will expand from eight available windows to 22, and the TSA security area and the check-in area will also be expanded.

Other amenities, like the addition of free Wi-Fi and two new family bathrooms will be added to the terminal during phase two. 

Scotty Brown’s restaurant, added to the airport in May 2012, received an expansion of both its restaurant floor and offices, growing to nearly 2,000 square feet –  a reflection of the success the restaurant has seen. 

The first phase of construction was handled by Tiger Construction, Ltd., and the second phase by Dawson Construction, Inc. The expansion has been scheduled to avoid interfering with passengers moving through the terminal.

“It’s been very easy,” Zenk said. “Tiger and Dawson have both been great – very accommodating.”  

The Bellingham International Airport sees high traffic regularly, as it provides a less-expensive alternative for travelers flying into Vancouver or Seattle. Zenk said the airport is expecting 10–12 percent growth over the next 20 years.