Columbia considers new airport terminal

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Columbia elected leaders took their first look at plans for a new passenger terminal at the city's regional airport.

The Columbia City Council reviewed architectural plans for a $33.7 million terminal to replace the 44-year-old structure south of town, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported (bit.ly/1a7Okxp).

Consultants hired by the city also suggested construction of an 800-car parking garage adjacent to the new terminal, which would have room for three airplane gates and capacity for as many as six gates. The current terminal has just one gate. American Airlines is the only carrier now flying out of Columbia Regional Airport.

City leaders emphasized that no decision has been made to replace the airport terminal, especially since the project lacks the necessary funding.

An $18.7 million request for airport terminal construction is on the city's fiscal year 2014 Capital Improvement Project list. Another $1.2 million from other capital project budgets also is available. And the Missouri Department of Transportation's new budget contains $1 million for airport planning.

The council's design consultant is Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc., a New York City-based firm with an office in St. Louis. The company received $38,407 from the city, the Tribune reported.

The suggested design calls for a two-level, 30,000-square-foot terminal that also would comply with federal access requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Consultant Tom Brooks-Pilling recommended the city consider shifting the airport's current access point just off U.S. Highway 63 to the east, a move that could create an opportunity for nearby business growth in what is now an undeveloped area.

Mayor Bob McDavid called the consultant's design "interesting" and "creative" but said a top priority should be working to strengthen the city's relationship with American Airlines.

Councilman Michael Trapp urged his colleagues to consider another scenario: an empty terminal if American eventually pulls out entirely from Columbia.

"There is a possibility that the airport isn't going to make it," he said. "I'd like to think, if we have to repurpose it, what would it be?"

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