Akron-Canton Airport Looks to Future

Even as Akron-Canton Airport officials celebrated a milestone in a $60 million expansion Thursday, planners are anticipating the next big growth spurt.

The building structure involved in the terminal's expansion has largely been completed, officials said, and the project is on target. Completion is expected early next summer.

The terminal was designed to make it easy to add gates and place facilities like restrooms and ticket counters in places where they would not need to be moved in future expansions, said Jordan Taylor, principal architect for HNTB Architecture of Washington.

The airport has seen phenomenal growth in recent years, ranking as the second-fastest growing airport from 2001 to 2004.

''We like to be ahead of the game for expansion,'' said Airport Director Fred Krum. ''We call it being in position to win.''

The expansion will leave the airport with 10 gates, new ticket counters, expanded restrooms and terrazzo flooring. The project is funded by fees paid by airlines and passengers.

Additionally, the airport is working on a $10 million facility for de-icing planes. The new pad to the south of the terminal will collect and treat the glycol and water used to remove ice.

The airport also is planning to extend its longest runway to 8,200 feet at an estimated cost of $55 million.

Road improvements around the airport are in the works. New traffic lights will be working on Lauby Road soon. A new exit from Interstate 77 south of the airport is under construction.

One thing airport planners do not want to build is a parking deck, considered one of the most expensive building projects an airport can do.

''A parking deck is in our five-year plan, but only as a last resort,'' said Krum. ''You really don't want to build a deck until you have to.''

Copyright 2005 Associated Press