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Meridian Regional Airport making plans for new terminal

By Staff
CHECKING IT OUT David Shumate, left, a Federal Aviation Administration civil engineer, and Tom Williams, Meridian Regional Airport Authority president and chief executive officer, look over plans for a new parking lot south of the Highway 11 terminal. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Nov. 23, 2001
As workers bomb-proof windows at the Meridian Regional Airport, officials are making plans to build a newer and safer airport terminal.
Williams said airport officials hope that the Federal Aviation Administration will fund 90 percent of the estimated $11 million project.
Williams said the state could contribute $120,000 a year to the project. He said other money could come from a $4.50 "passenger facility charge" added to the price of each airline ticket.
Tight security
Williams said the decision to build a new terminal was based on increased security requirements and not enough room to accommodate baggage check points or waiting passengers.
Design plans should be available in about a year, he said, with construction taking another 18 to 24 months. The new airport terminal likely would be south of the control tower and could be open in about three years.
The old building would be leased as office space, he said.
Williams said he discussed the airport's problems and needs with an architect. He said a study showed renovations to the existing terminal could prove as costly as building a new terminal.
The current airport terminal was built in 1959 and renovated in 1990.
Renovations to accommodate new security procedures and expand the passenger waiting area would have forced the airport authority to restructure airline ticket desk locations, build a new security area and create an add-on to the passenger waiting area.
But, Williams said, it still would not have improved parking conditions.
Parking problems
David Shumate, a civil engineer with the FAA in Jackson, said the FAA lifted its parking restrictions in mid-October for smaller airports like Meridian. Those restrictions mandated cars be parked at least 300 feet from airport terminals.
The added security measures were costing the airport authority an estimated $180,000 a year, about $26,000 less than the authority's annual operations and maintenance budget of $206,000.
Passengers who were forced to park in the nearby industrial park can now park in lots adjacent to the airport terminal. But Shumate said any threat to smaller airports could mean the FAA would impose the security measure again.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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