BANGOR, Maine — Bangor International Airport’s “tired” terminal will get a much-needed update starting early next year, according to Bangor International Airport officials.
“Probably the most visible thing that the passengers will see is the first-floor domestic terminal renovation process,” Robbie Beaton, superintendent of operations for the airport, said Thursday. “We have not upgraded the first floor of that terminal since probably the 1970s.”
The terminal project is expected to cost $7-8 million, funded through a series of federal and state grants, passenger facility charges, Airport Improvement Program funds, the TSA and “minimal out-of-pocket costs” from the airport, BIA Director Tony Caruso said Friday. Construction is scheduled to begin in February and will last about 18 months. The terminal will remain open during the renovations.
The changes include rearranging the airline ticket counters, bringing them all to the North side of the building near the current main entrance, pushing back the counters and the front wall to open more space for queuing passengers, installing windows along the front of the terminal to let in more natural light, replacing flooring and light fixtures, adding wood finish to give the airport a “Maine feel,” and more.
The TSA will move its baggage screening behind the wall, Caruso said. A conveyor belt will take the bags from the ticket counters to the room on the other side for the in-line baggage screening process.
Caruso said that will speed up check-in times, get passengers out of line and to their gates on the second floor faster.
After returning, passengers would come down the escalator as always, but will take a right to get to the baggage claim and rental car booths, before exiting farther down on the South end of the terminal. This will prevent “criss-crossing” of passengers coming and going from the airport.
“We took this opportunity to look at our passenger flow and see how we could improve the overall passenger experience here at the airport,” Beaton said.
The project will be completed in phases to avoid shutting down the entire first floor at once.
“We’re going to try to minimize the impact on our airlines and tenants, and also minimize the inconvenience for passengers as much as we can,” Caruso said. “We know for all parties it’s going to be inconvenient until we can get this wrapped up.”
The easier and more efficient it becomes to use the airport, the more word will spread and the more people will look to BIA for travel, Caruso said.
The terminal isn’t the only part of the airport that will receive attention. During an Aug. 26 Bangor City Council meeting, councilors accepted about $6 million in new federal and state grants to go toward several projects at the airport. Those projects range from the terminal upgrade to improving drainage on the airfield and upgrading runway lights.
In all, Caruso said he expects the airport will spend $12-14 million in grants and other funds during the next two years on improvements.
The airport also will be filling a canal on the property after receiving a $1.7 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration and $94,000 from the Maine Department of Transportation. The canal is a frequent hangout for hundreds of ducks that could present a danger to aircraft on takeoff.
Several attempts in the past to relocate the ducks have failed, but the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and airport believe the ducks would find a new spot after the canal is filled.
“Birds and aircraft don’t mix,” Caruso said.