Apr. 20 -- NEWPORT NEWS -- Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport is planning a second concourse that would dramatically increase the airport's ability to handle passengers.
The board that oversees the airport has selected a Norfolk architectural firm to design the $10 million addition. Construction is expected to start next year.
The Peninsula Airport Commission voted 5-0 on Thursday to have Shriver and Holland Associates design the concourse -- an addition where travelers will be able to board and exit airplanes.
The change would add to the airport five plane parking spots where airlines could load and offload travelers, bringing the site's total to 14 spaces.
It would also double -- to 10 from five -- the number of the airport's jetways.
Those are covered elevated corridors in which passengers can walk to and from planes, rather than boarding or disembarking from the tarmac outside.
Projected to be two stories and about 15,000 square feet per floor, the new concourse would be adjacent to the atrium at the center of the terminal.
Early plans call for the design to be ready to go by the spring of 2008, with construction expected to be completed within about 18 months.
The airport might need the capacity.
Growth has slowed somewhat recently, but airport traffic grew 150 percent between 2001 and 2006. The site now handles more than a million passengers a year, compared with fewer than 425,000 in 2001.
Shriver and Holland designed a baggage-claim section five years ago for the Newport News airport. The company also helped build a $133 million arrival terminal at Norfolk International Airport. The terminal opened in 2002.
The firm came to the board meeting with some early drawings of what the building could look like.
"They were really well prepared, did a lot of work, have great qualifications," board Chairman Ed Maroney said of the company's presentation.
"They've done extensive work in Richmond and Norfolk and are a very qualified firm.
"The other firms were also very good."
The board tapped Rancorn Wildman Architects, a Newport News firm based in Oyster Point, as its second choice to design the concourse.
If negotiations with Shriver and Holland fall apart, the board will instead negotiate with Rancorn Wildman, the same firm that designed a new airport parking garage.
The garage is being built and will open in July.
Aside from Shriver and Holland and Rancorn Wildman, two other design firms -- URS Corp., a San Francisco company with offices in Virginia Beach, and EarthTech, a Long Beach, Calif., company with offices in Norfolk and Virginia Beach -- also gave presentations at the board meeting Thursday.
Before the meeting, the airport's staff selected the four firms out of eight that submitted their qualifications.
The board hasn't picked a firm yet to build the concourse.
In other items from Thursday's board meeting, Jim Smith, the airport's executive director, reported that total airport traffic for March -- arrivals and departures -- came in at 79,324 passengers. That's a 0.4 percent decline from the same month in 2006.
But for the 12 months ending in March, the airport's total traffic was up 0.4 percent, to 1,053,249 passengers.
AirTran Airways led the airport's passenger counts in that stretch, with 56 percent of the airport's travelers.
It was followed by Delta Connection, with 24 percent, and US Airways Express, with 20 percent.
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