Crammed Oregon Airport Set to Quintuple in Size

REDMOND -- Central Oregon's only commercial airport could quintuple in size according to plans announced by managers at Roberts Field in Redmond.

Since the airport's current terminal was built in 1993, annual boardings have more than doubled, from roughly 79,000 to 189,000. More than 200,000 boardings are anticipated this year, owing in some measure to the expansion of nonstop service to Los Angeles.

"The community has grown, and the airport just reflects the community," said manager Carrie Novick.

Novick said construction at the facility, also known as Redmond Municipal Airport, will start next March to expand the single-gate terminal from 23,000 square feet to between 110,000 and 115,000 square feet.

The $30 million to $35 million project should take about 11/2 years to complete, she said. It will add a second baggage claim conveyor, additional bathrooms and a small concession in the boarding area. The boarding area will be moved closer to where the planes wait on the tarmac, shortening the walk for passengers.

The project will be financed by revenue bonds issued by the city of Redmond, which owns the airport. Those bonds will then be paid off using a mix of federal funds, state grants and passenger charges, Novick said.

The airport expects about 210,000 boardings this year, Novick said, roughly what was predicted for 2008 under its 2004 master plan.

"We're growing so fast, it's hard to get ahead," she said.

Redmond is the fourth largest airport in the state in terms of passenger traffic after Portland, Eugene and Medford, and is serviced by Delta Air Lines, Horizon Air and United Airlines.

This winter Horizon Air announced it would begin twice-daily nonstop service to Los Angeles International Airport in August. So far this year passenger boardings for the airline are up 16 percent compared with the first three months of 2005.

"This is being driven --a lot of it, obviously --by the new L.A. service," Novick said.

Outside the terminal, graders and dump trucks are at work on a $6.5 million project to double the number of parking spaces to 1,150.

Inside, on many early weekday mornings, the line to pass through the airport's sole security screener can extend into the baggage claim area and nearly out the door.

"We just don't have any room," Novick said. They hope to add a second X-ray machine before construction starts.

In one of those lines on a recent weekday morning was insurance executive Jim Czesak, nudging his duffle forward with his feet and waiting to fly home to Los Angeles.

Czesak now flies to Central Oregon four times a year, but that will double once the nonstop flights start, he said.

"If I'm coming here twice as frequently, and others are coming here twice as frequently, this place won't be able to handle the increased volume with its existing infrastructure," he said.


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