The Akron-Canton Airport on Tuesday was awarded nearly $9 million dollars in federal funding for projects, including expansion of the security checkpoint and a new aircraft rescue and firefighting building.
In a news release, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said the award was made by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Ohio businesses and visitors depend on safe and efficient operations at Akron-Canton Regional Airport,” Brown said. “This funding will ensure that the airport can provide first rate safety services in Northeast Ohio.”
Airport President and Chief Executive Officer Rick McQueen said the airport requested the funding, but wasn’t sure until Tuesday that it was receiving it.
The biggest part of the $8,976,092 grant is to build an aircraft rescue, firefighting and snow removal building, said McQueen. The current building that houses those units is attached to the terminal and not centrally located since changes have been made to extended runways during expansion projects, he said.
“That building is no longer located in an ideal position on the airfield to responding to aircraft emergencies,” said McQueen. The new building will be free-standing on existing airport property near the 356th Fighter Group restaurant and will be accessible to Mount Pleasant Road, McQueen said.
The new facility will cost $7.5 million.
“We really need to thank our senators and Congressional delegation for helping to push that through. That continues with CAK 2018,” McQueen said, referring to the airport’s long-term expansion plan project. “It sets us up for future terminal expansion that will be critical.”
Bids will go out for the new project on Monday and McQueen said he hopes to have ground broken by October with completion by the end of next year. The old building will be repurposed, perhaps for a future custom and border patrol facility. Having that type of facility would attract future international travel, he said.
Other projects included in the grant are an expansion of the security screening area in the airport and repaving of taxiways that have not been paved since 1978, which is a long time, said McQueen. The taxiways have held up well, he said.
The airport screening expansion began about a month ago with the relocation of the food court and gift shop area within the airport toward the south side of the main concourse. That will make room for the security area to be nearly doubled, said McQueen. It will have room for six lanes, but will start with four lanes for $1.3 million.
The airport is responsible for paying for 5 percent of all of the projects, which will be $475,000. The money will come from airport revenues from airlines and passenger facility charges, said McQueen.
Said airport spokeswoman Kristie Van Auken: “The $9 million will go directly to putting hardworking Northeast Ohioans to work immediately. More jobs, a dream airfield – it just doesn’t get any better than that.”
Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Betty on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisher and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty