The first steps in opening a new terminal at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport were taken earlier this month when authorities voted to conduct a $400,000 study to determine what it will take to do the project.
The airport authority, made up partly of civic leaders from surrounding cities, voted unanimously to fund the study to help the airport plan its biggest move to date. The idea is to create a new east-side terminal that would be bounded by planned commercial properties at the mouth of a new freeway.
"We're hiring a consultant to start looking into the scope of what it would take to get started on the east-side project," said Brian Sexton, airport spokesman. "As part of the task, the consultant will identify the most suitable connection between the airport and the (planned state Route) 802," also known as the Williams Gateway Freeway.
Although the project, including the terminal, new highway and planned commercial properties are possibly a decade away from reality, Sexton said a major plan like this requires the airport to get the process off the ground as early as possible or possibly experience delays down the line.
The airport board on Dec. 14 approved funding of no more than $399,000 for the planning phase of the project, with the lion's share of the money coming from Mesa.
"The city of Mesa is going to be walking hand in hand with the airport in this project because it's in their jurisdiction," Sexton said. Mesa approved its portion of about $250,000, and the airport will add $150,000.
"This is tying Mesa and the airport's visions together," Sexton said.
Lynn Kusy, airport executive director, said a consulting firm will provide10 technical reports and an executive summary that will be produced in about nine months after the study gets under way in February.
"We already have the airport master plan, which is the basic planning for the airport's future," Kusy said. "And after this study, we'll be moving into the preliminary engineering phase" for the new terminal.
Kusy said the airport is well on its way to one day having no choice but to move into a larger terminal. In a matter of weeks, he said, the airport will reach the milestone of 1 million passengers boarding and exiting planes at the terminal.
"It took us about two years to get to this point," said Kusy, who added that the ideal number of flyers that would require a larger, newer terminal is 1 million passengers in a single year.