Airport trust OKs Tulsa Airport $148.6 million capital upgrade plan

A five-year $148.6 million capital improvement plan for Tulsa International Airport that includes major terminal and runway reconstruction projects was approved Thursday by the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust. The capital plan for fiscal years 2012-2016 includes 12 projects that have been reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission and airport tenants, airport executives said. Among the projects slated for 2012 are the $31 million reconstruction of the east passenger concourse, the first phase of the $5.75 million upgrade to the fiber-optic network that supports the airfield access control system and the $10.6 million phased reconstruction of Tulsa International's 10,000-foot main north-south runway. Jeff Hough, deputy airports director of engineering and facilities, said the $31 million reconstruction of the A (east) concourse will include the $6 million purchase of passenger boarding bridges, $1 million of new furniture, the purchase of backup generators and electrical upgrades.

The $16.79 million reconstruction of the B (west) concourse began last summer and is expected to be completed about Jan. 1, airport officials said. Hough said the renovated field access control system will expand the network into areas controlled by the Tulsa Airport Authority that are not now served by fiber. "Existing gate operators, that are becoming unreliable, will be replaced and card readers installed to control vehicles and pedestrians entering and exiting the airfield," the capital improvement plan says. "System software will be upgraded as necessary to provide a state-of-the-art system. New technology and additional cameras for enhancing emergency response capabilities and security of sensitive areas of the airfield and terminal building will also be considered for installation." Construction has begun on the first, 1,300-foot phase of the main runway project, Hough said. The work on the first phase is expected to be completed in a few months. The $10.6 million second phase reconstruction of the main runway is expected to begin later this year and will rebuild from 1,000 feet to 1,500 feet of runway, Hough said. The board approved a $99,360 professional services agreement with Leigh Fisher Management Consultants. Leigh Fisher will examine the organizational structure between the city of Tulsa, TAIT and the Airport Authority. Airports Director Jeff Mulder said the transition to a new airline lease agreement and business model in 2008 gives trustees the opportunity to look at ways to improve efficiency and generation of revenue. Mulder said the city owns the property at 4,361-acre Tulsa International, and it has a management agreement with TAIT to operate the airport and Jones Riverside Airport at Jenks. The existing agreement expires in 2012. "One of the primary reasons to conduct a review is that there have been significant changes in the airport industry from 25 years ago, and this lease expiration provides an opportunity to make adjustments to meet the demands of the new marketplace," Mulder said in a memo to the board. "In regards to efficiency, we need to reduce our bureaucracy and have the flexibility to make changes quickly, yet maintain a well defined set of accountabilities. In regards to revenue generation, we need to operate with more of an incentive-based approach and have the ability to partner with other agencies to further economic development. "Without some changes to our organizational structure, we will continue to struggle with being cost competitive with other airports and miss opportunities for development that will benefit the airport and, more importantly, the local and regional economy." D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451 SUBHEAD: The five-year plan includes passenger corridors and runways.