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Flipping airport plans expected to save construction costs, time
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MONROE - A simple flip and shift. The Airport Board of Management expects this change to its airport terminal construction plans will keep 10 to 20 percent of its $500,000 budget from going into temporary utility connections.

Members of the board decided last week to flip the blueprints end-for-end and locate the new terminal about 30 feet east of its current spot. The new terminal was originally intended to be built on the same spot as the old terminal.

Under the original plans, construction required tearing down the old terminal, while airport operations were temporarily housed in a modular, mobile office building. That also meant temporarily rewiring the airport equipment, at a cost of between $40,000 and $90,000, according to Rob Driver, airport manager.

Though bidding and construction will start a few weeks later than intended, Driver believes the new plan will "speed things up, with less down time," not just for the airport, but also for construction, and still keep the finishing date in December.

Shifting the new terminal about 30 feet to the east puts it onto unused ground, where construction can begin immediately and while airport operations can continue undisturbed for most of the time period.

Construction is expected to start in June. July and August are the airport's biggest fuel sale months, Driver said.

The flip-and-shift plan pushes bid letting to early April, with bids opened in May.

The old building will be removed. Razing can begin before new construction is finished, but new construction doesn't depend on it being done.

The old building brings some unknowns of its own, Driver noted. If any asbestos is found in the building's vermiculite insulation, it could delay the razing by up to two months for a hazmat removal process.

"It saves (construction) time not to raze it first," Driver said.

The waiting area of the new terminal will be now located on the west end, nearest to the parking lot.

Driver said the area of the old building can be used to extend the parking lot, if needed, and will give extra room to accommodate American with Disabilities Act regulations for ramps.

"There will be plenty of room when the old building is gone," he said.

About 95 percent of the terminal construction cost is covered by federal funding through the state Bureau of Aeronautics. The city and state pay matching amounts for the remaining. Federal funding is generated by aviation fuel taxes and produces about $150,000 per year for the Monroe airport, but the state determines which airports projects it will build each year.

Funding from the BOA cannot be used to rehabilitate the current airport terminal, about 900 square feet built on a cement slab built in 1972. That, said Driver, would have to be funded completely by local property taxes.