August 25, 2016

TRI Completes Road Frontage Improvement Project

The Tri-Cities Airport’s terminal frontage project is complete and was christened with a celebration by airport and regional community leaders today.

This $6.24 million project was implemented to improve passenger convenience and safety in front of the terminal building. The project widened sidewalks, increased the size of the drop-off/pick-up lane, provided more curb frontage for vehicles to actively load and unload, improved pedestrian access to public parking lots, and provided landscaping features that present a better front door image to people visiting the region. A new cell phone waiting lot and credit card-only parking lot were also established as part of the project.

The project spanned three years with design work for Phase I beginning in April 2013 and design work for phase II beginning in February 2014. Construction started in March 2015 with sidewalks being removed on the parking lot side of the terminal front. More than 3,500 cubic yards of dirt was moved to make way for the upgrades.

As a result of the upgrades, short-term parking has 247 spaces including nine ADA accessible spaces, long-term parking has 722 spaces including 13 ADA accessible spaces, and the express credit card-only parking lot has 210 spaces including 10 ADA accessible spaces.

One very special item remains from the previous configuration of the terminal front, a statue of Senator Kenneth McKellar. The statue has been carefully restored to its original beauty and placed on a new base at the edge of short-term parking. Senator McKellar was a friend and advocate of commercial aviation and played a role in helping to establish Tri-Cities Airport. So much so, the airfield was named for him – McKellar Field.

Edgar Bowlin, internationally-known and local artist, sculpted the statue from marble in 1958. Bowlin is well-known for a bronze bust of Helen Keller, a statue named “Pleased Boy of Noble Street”, and many other pieces that include past presidents. He is also well-known for his paintings. The airport was honored to have Bowlin’s two sons, Col. Gladwyn Bowlin and Edgar Bowlin, Jr., at the celebration to see the restoration of their father’s work.

During 2015, the Airport Authority also completed several renovations to the interior of the main terminal. These improvements included construction of new restroom facilities at the mid-point of the existing restrooms, and renovations to the rental car wing of the terminal.

AUG. 25, 2016 – COL. GLADWYN BOWLIN WITH FATHER’S SCULPTURE OF SENATOR KENNETH MCKELLAR

During 2015, the Airport Authority also completed several renovations to the interior of the main terminal. These improvements included construction of new restroom facilities at the mid-point of the existing restrooms, and renovations to the rental car wing of the terminal.

Additional improvements during 2016 include upgrades in the baggage claim area and a new passenger boarding bridge. A project was also begun that provides new concrete aircraft parking areas at the general aviation facilities, and grading to accommodate future expansion of the general aviation ramp. Tailwind Concessions has recently opened a new retail space in the concourse allowing expansion of the restaurant.

Consultants for the road front improvement project included Atkins Global Consulting, Versen Landscape Architects, and Armstong Aviation. Contractors for the project included Summers and Taylor, Acorn Electric, and Henderson Landscaping. The airport received $5.7 million in federal and state grants, and $93,267 in PFC funds toward the project.