Air/Political- State officials push for $125 million BWI expansion project – Baltimore Sun

Posted: July 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

July 12, 2013

The O’Malley administration is launching a three-year, $125 million construction project that will set the table for more international flights from BWI Marshall Airport.

The plans appear to dovetail with the likely move of the airport’s largest carrier, Southwest Airlines, into overseas markets and the Federal Aviation Administration’s plan to build a new tower there.

The project would modernize Concourse D — home to United, Delta, Jet Blue and US Airways — and create a secure connection to the international gates on Concourse E at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The new configuration would allow two Concourse D gates to be used for overseas flights.

The preliminary schedule calls for the design to be ready by fall 2014 and construction to be completed in fall 2016.

BWI will ask the Board of Public Works on July 24 to approve money to hire a designer and construction management company to draft blueprints.

“This development plan will support hundreds of jobs for Marylanders and increase travel, trade and business development in our state,” Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a statement. “Together, we are expanding opportunities for growth at BWI Marshall as a convenient, efficient airport for travelers throughout the region.”

The project will be paid for with $100 million from BWI’s passenger facility charges collected on each airline ticket and $25 million from the state’s Transportation Infrastructure and Investment Act of 2013.

The airport’s executive director, Paul Wiedefeld, who flew to Dallas on Thursday to brief Southwest officials on the proposal, characterized their response as “very pleased.”

Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said the airline supports BWI’s vision.

“This is clearly building the house that is the next chapter in our relationship,” Hawkins said. “BWI is clearly hedging on low fares, high customer service and low fees on international routes, and that’s what Southwest is all about.”

While Hawkins acknowledged Southwest’s international interest, the airline has not laid out specific plans. Southwest has told the airport it intends to start flying international routes perhaps as early as 2015, Wiedefeld said.

BWI’s proposal comes as the region’s busiest airport puts the finishing touches on a $100 million terminal expansion for domestic flights, continues a $356 million runway rehabilitation program and begins planning with the FAA for a new 228-foot air traffic control tower.

The FAA wants to replace the three-decade-old existing tower over Concourse C with a taller tower able to observe the entire airport. A new tower, at a cost of at least $26 million, could be integrated into another construction project at the airport.

via State officials push for $125 million BWI expansion project – Baltimore Sun.

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