Rapid City Regional Airport staff to apply for $20 million dollar federal grant for Terminal Renovation and Expansion Project #1

RAPID CITY, S.D. – During the Rapid City Regional Airport Board of Directors meeting, the staff was authorized to apply for a $20 million dollar federal grant to help fund Terminal Renovation and Expansion Project #1.

This project will improve areas of the terminals like the baggage make-up area, the ticket counters and the TSA checkpoints.

Here’s more to know about the project.

What is Project One?

Project One will renovate and improve some of the places of the terminal that have less traffic.

“Part of the issues that we have with the terminal right now is we’ve renovated a lot of areas where a lot of people see on a daily basis. What we haven’t done is a lot of back-of-house work where a lot of the employees work,” Patrick Dame, executive director of Rapid City Regional Airport, said.

Baggage make-up area

Currently, the baggage make-up section – which is the nonpublic area where checked bags are sorted and loaded onto baggage carts – has linear bag belts where luggage is screened before they are manually unloaded and carried up to 100 feet to a bag cart.

The screening process of the luggage is still done behind the ticket counter in front of the public.

“Our bag makeup system is behind many airports that are even half our size,” Dame said. “This [project] would allow for two carousels in the back bag make-up area where the bags will get deposited onto the carousel. They would load that right into their carts that are sitting right next to the carousel. So a little bit more of a traditional type setting. This also would relocate all the screening equipment that screens the bags into the bag makeup room, that would allow for a more secured atmosphere for screening baggage.”

TSA checkpoint

The TSA checkpoint would be expanded to at least three lanes. The (TSA) has asked the airport to provide a third lane.

“We’re going to have the ability to expand up to five lanes in the future. But with our summer traffic loads, we really are in the process of we need three of those lines going during the summer,” Dame said. “But we currently don’t have the space to be able to do that. So Project One would add the space to be able to actually have a right-sized checkpoint for an airport our size.”

To add the third lane, a second story was added to the bag make-up area, allowing a new checkpoint to be accessed from the current airport administrative office location.

Ticket counters

The ticket counter area would be expanded mainly for summer traffic.

The current layout of the ticketing area limits flexibility for airline expansion and makes it more difficult for passengers to navigate the terminal. Plus when it’s busier, the line can reach to the back to the escalators.

Photos from the airport and the airport Board of Directors meeting:

Cost of Project One

According to Dame, the total cost of Project One is about $52 million. For the project, the airport staff is hoping for 60% to be covered by federal funding while the local community and the state would typically split the rest of the cost.

With this $20 million grant paying for part of the project, there are also estimated funds from the local community and the state for over $1 million each. They also have other requests in place.

“So typically in a project of this magnitude, you’ve got to have many partners on the table,” Dame said. “Terminal projects are a little different magnitude in that a project of this size is more than the state’s aeronautics normal allocation of their funding is. So under that, we’re also going to be seeking to work with the legislature and with the governor’s office. We’ve been meeting with them in an effort as well to try and get state funding in place for the project.”

When they should find out?

Dame says they are anticipating that this spring they’ll hear about funding announcements. Possibly they could be getting funding toward the project then as well.

If they don’t get the funding, the project will continue as funding for the airport is available.

“We do have portions of funding in place in terms of our available funds that we have under our entitlement funding, but the majority of the bulk of this project will not roll forward until we start to see some other funding sources coming through,” Dame said.

Why is this improvement important?

“This project is important to Rapid City. It’s also important to western South Dakota and the state of South Dakota because tourism is a major economic driver for our state,” Dame said. “Many of the people who are coming here are coming to see the Black Hills. And based on that, we’ve got a major economic impact to western South Dakota that flows right through this airport.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News