May 28--For the first time in 17 years, Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport has a federally approved master plan that includes a new security checkpoint, more baggage carousels, improved plane taxiways and possibly a new runway.
The Federal Aviation Administration recently signed off last week on the plan, which has been in development since 2009, Airport Executive Director Ken Spirito said on Tuesday.
"We haven't had an updated plan in place since 1997," he added.
The airport, which straddles Newport News and York County, needed the plan in place in order to qualify for federal funds to cover maintenance, upgrades and renovation projects over the next 20 years.
Spirito and airport Assistant Director Ted Kitchens said the plan includes short-term projects to be tackled over the next five years, 5- to 10-year, intermediate projects, and 10- to 20-year, long-range proposals.
The short-term projects total $60 million and include consolidating the airport's two security checkpoints into one and improving the alpha taxiway. That majority of the $11 million taxiway project is being covered by an FAA grant, Kitchens said. About 95 percent of the short-term projects would be covered by federal, state and other funding sources.
Kitchens said airport officials anticipate beginning construction on the new checkpoint, which will be where the Blue Sky Cafe and Hudson News store are, in October or November. Construction should take about a year, he added.
Kitchens said the new checkpoint area will include three lanes for passengers, and the ability to offer the Transportation Security Administration's Pre-Check expedited screening.
The checkpoint will open onto a large curved lobby with ceiling-high windows looking onto the runways. Airport Spokeswoman Jessica Wharton earlier said in addition to the restaurant and store, the new lobby will have space for new concessions.
Intermediate projects focus on shifting the airport's shorter runway, called 220, and "decoupling" it from the main runway. Kitchens said the airport also will improve the intersection of the runways. The airport also will extend some taxiways to cut ground travel time for planes upon landing and prior to takeoff.
Other intermediate plans call for developing more hangar space for corporate aircraft. Spirito said general aviation was a growing business for the Newport News airport, and about 100 planes now are housed there.
Terminal plans call for improving baggage screening and renovating the baggage claim area, increasing the number of carousels from two to three.
Long term plans call for another parking deck and additional work on runways and taxiways.
The intermediate and long-range projects have a projected price of $102.9 million.
Additionally, the master plan has "ultimate" proposals, stretching beyond 2033, such as building a third runway parallel to the main 8,000-foot runway and extending that runway to 10,000 feet. The estimated price tag for those projects is $272.1 million.
Spirito said airports usually update their master plans every 10 years, but in the mid 1990s "there were some plan disagreements between the administration and the FAA."
When he joined the airport in 2009, he started the process of updating the plan. The airport held public meetings in 2011 and 2013, and the Peninsula Airport Commission approved a draft of the plan in March. The plan then was sent to the FAA for approval.
Spirito said the projects on the plan will be tackled by demand and need.
"Some of the things that are in there may never happen," he said.
Grimes can be reached by phone at 757-247-4758.
Copyright 2014 - Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)