Work to expand the secure holding area where passengers wait after clearing security at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport will get underway in early January and be completed by the end of March, the airport commission learned during its monthly meeting Dec. 20.
Airport director Matt Leitner told the commission that the secure area expansion project, which will cost $135,000 and be paid for through a combination of state and federal funding sources, is scheduled to get underway Jan. 6.
Because the work will utilize existing plumbing from the old restaurant for the restrooms, and won't otherwise change the outside structure, it will be a relatively inexpensive project when completed, Leitner said when the project was first announced in March.
The terminal building renovation will make more efficient use of existing space by relocating the secure hold room to provide additional seating capacity. The capacity of the present secure area can get crowded with approximately 50 passengers going through the area on each outbound flight.
The change will also reorient the security checkpoint to meet Transportation Security Administration (TSA) design standards.
At the Dec. 20 meeting, Leitner told the commissioners that the new secure area will have 94 chairs, bathrooms and vending machines.
"It will be a much better experience for the traveler," Leitner said. "Obviously, we will be able to accommodate more people at one time."
Work on the infrared de-icer project will begin when the secure area is complete, and is expected to be completed by the middle of May.
"So you're going to see a lot of activity out here," Leitner said.
The most challenging part of the project will be the Transportation Safety Administration moving its equipment into its new position, Leitner added.
"There will be one night where they take the existing equipment and put it in the new space," Leitner explained. "TSA is going to be coming from everywhere for that. They'll be on-site, Delta Airlines IT is going to be on-site, we're going to be on-site, Mead & Hunt is going to be on-site to make sure that when the coffee is brewing the following morning, the new area is ready to go and we're not checking bags by hand."
The work on the secure area was originally scheduled to be done in October, however a delay in receiving the grant money postponed the project.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernews online.com.
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