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First phase of expansion is under way.

$45-million project

Work is under way on the first phase of the $45-million expansion/renovation of the Thunder Bay Airport.

Early last month construction crews from Pierre Gagne Contracting Ltd. of Thunder Bay were busy installing new service systems and preparing to move Round Boulevard about 40 metres east of its current location.

In addition, the work includes the construction of the first half of the airport's new parking lot.

"We anticipate that about $2 million worth of the work will be completed before the freeze up," said airport manager Paul Conrad.

The parking lot's construction will be completed next spring, along with the construction of a parking lot for rental cars and a new access road.

Construction of a new 8,850-square-metre terminal is scheduled to commence next fall.

Preliminary designs for the building from the Winnipeg architectural firm IKOY Partnership were submitted in late September. One design was a traditional box-shaped building, while the second design resembled an airplane wing (from an end view). The final design is expected to be selected by early December.

The new terminal, which carries a price tag of $19.9 million, will be constructed east of the present building, which will be razed to accommodate an enlarged apron, the area in front of the terminal where planes are parked while passengers load and unload.

Conrad said the enlarged apron, which will be about one-third larger than the current apron, has become necessary to handle the many types of aircraft which utilize the airport.

The construction of the new building and expansion of the apron will also necessitate the demolition of the old air traffic services building and the Kelner Airways Ltd. hangar.

According to Conrad, hangar space at the airport is scare - three companies utilize the Kelner hangar - and a new hangar is expected to be built south of the present one.

While the new terminal will have a similar floor plan to the present 2,700-square-metre structure, there are significant differences between the two buildings.

"The major difference is that we're going from one floor to three floors," explained Conrad. "We had to go that route because it's not a large area we're working with."

The first floor of the new building will house ticket operations, baggage pick-up facilities, car rental booths, small concession booths and a holding room (where passengers wait to board the plane) for the regional airlines.

The second floor will house two holding rooms, loading bridges for larger airlines, a concession area, a restaurant featuring a view of the runway area, a viewing area and mechanical rooms.

"Passengers won't have to be exposed to the elements when they board or disembark the larger planes," noted Conrad, adding that passengers who use the smaller aircraft utilized by regional carriers will still have to brave the elements as they travel between the terminal and the plane.

The administrative offices, flight service station, leased offices and the majority of electrical and mechanical systems will be located on the third floor.

The construction and demolition work is scheduled to be completed by 1995, in time for the city's hosting of the Nordic World Ski Championships.

The larger building and redesigned services are expected to handle normal passenger loads until at least 1998.
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Title Annotation:Focus on Thunder Bay; expansion/renovation of the Thunder Bay Airport, Ontario
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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