Cleared for planning at the Eastern Iowa Airport

-- June 07--C EDAR RAPIDS -- It's time for an update of The Eastern Iowa Airport master plan, and the public will have a chance to help shape it. Public information meetings will be part of the development process, and Airport...


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June 07--C EDAR RAPIDS -- It's time for an update of The Eastern Iowa Airport master plan, and the public will have a chance to help shape it.

Public information meetings will be part of the development process, and Airport Director Tim Bradshaw said the public is invited to evaluate parts of the plan.

The plan, which will guide future airport development, will take 18 months to two years to complete and submit to the Cedar Rapids Airport Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration. The master plan, which looks at five-, 10 -- and 20-year benchmarks, was last updated in 2004 at a cost of $275,000.

Bradshaw said the last master plan focused on airfield improvements, including the $47.6 million reconstruction of the airport's main runway. He said the airport's passenger terminal, which is 25 years old, will be a focus of the next master plan.

'It will give us an opportunity to take advantage of new

technologies,' Bradshaw said. 'The security checkpoint is narrow, and we need to look at expanding it to accommodate more equipment. We also need to look at developing more food and beverage concessions after the checkpoint.' The Federal Aviation Administration pays 95 percent of the plan's development cost, and the airport pays the remaining 5 percent. The airport, which does not receive property tax revenue from Cedar Rapids, will use passenger facility charge revenue for its share of the project.

Bradshaw said nine firms have submitted proposals to develop the plan.

'These companies were really hungry for this work, and we received proposals from some very top-notch firms,' Bradshaw said.

'It's really a community plan, which is why there's public involvement.

The firm that we select to develop the plan will form an advisory committee, which will usually include public officials and people who head up economic development groups. There will be public meetings, and we will do something on the Internet to receive public comment.' Bradshaw said all capital improvements inthe 2004 master plan have been completed, except the buildout of Concourse B, or the lower concourse. That was scheduled to happen when annual airport traffic hit a million passengers, but the economy and air travel tanked in 2008, and the commission put the project on hold.

'These plans have trigger points, usually tied to operational activity or number of passengers, when specific development kicks in,' Bradshaw said. 'They also include a financial plan to help pay for the goals.' Air travel has changed since the master plan was updated in 2004.

'The airlines have been slowly reducing the number of full-size aircraft and going to regional jets,' Bradshaw said. 'The airlines have reduced their capacity by the greatest amount since World War II. They are flying fewer, smallerplanes, but those flights typically are near full.' Bradshaw said the FAA reviews the plan's methods to achieve proposed improvements and approves an airport layout plan. The Cedar Rapids Airport Commission approves the entire master plan.

The master plan does not include airfares, which are set by the airlines.

– Comments: (319) 398-8366; george.ford@sourcemedia.net

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