Jefferson County Legislators Vote in Favor of Contracts for Watertown Airport Enhancements

June 24, 2024

Jun. 21—WATERTOWN — A $20 million project at the Watertown International Airport aiming to include new amenities for travelers is set to begin over the summer and be finished next summer.

The terminal and gateway redevelopment project was approved by the Jefferson County Board of Legislators earlier this week with five construction firms taking part and coming in on budget. The local share for the contracts equals $116,021 and funds from the airport terminal account will be used. No money will be coming from county tax revenues such as property taxes and sales tax.

Contracts for general construction, plumbing, mechanical, and electrical construction were the agreements approved by county legislators this week.

Grant W. Sussey, director of aviation for the airport, said that the improvements include a welcoming area, improved ticketing area, new security checkpoints, a new upstairs waiting room, a restaurant in the old terminal, and a jet bridge that connects travelers from the terminal to the airplane, among other improvements.

The restaurant is part of the larger project, and is not included in what was approved this week. It will be where the current terminal is.

The airport has two flights a day on a regional jet aircraft to Philadelphia. The new terminal may allow for other flights.

The majority of the 20,000-square-foot project is funded through a state grant with other money through an airport improvement program.

"The users of the facility are contributing to the development of the facility through the airport improvement program," Sussey said. "We appreciate those that use the airport."

Sussey said the project is extremely important for the local economy and the longevity of the airport.

"With this terminal, not only are we meeting the present need and the future need, but we're enhancing the customer experience to make it even better," he said.

The waiting area will accommodate 250 people.

Jefferson County Legislator Phillip N Reed Sr., who represents the towns of Alexandria and Orleans in addition to part of LeRay, said that having an upgraded terminal has always been a goal.

"We haven't had to go to the taxpayer for these projects," he said. "It is a huge advancement for the facility ... this will bring us to the next level."

There is also no debt carried from the airport.

"It's going to enhance our ability to serve the people," Reed said.

When the county first took over the airport, fewer than 4,000 people were using the airport every year. That number is now 40,000.

"There's a lot of amenities that we'll be bringing to the flying public," he said.

Reed said the jet bridge and a new baggage carousel are extremely important. The baggage carousel will be similar to the one travelers see at the Syracuse International Airport.

Construction will begin sometime over the summer, Sussey said, and flights will not be impacted.


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