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VIDEO: Smithers multi-million dollar airport expansion begins

Layout of terminal will change, allowing more passengers in a new hold room with washrooms.
Construction is well under way for the new boarding lounge. (Josh Casey photo)

Flying out of the Smithers Regional Airport is going to become slightly easier once the expansion project is complete.

The multi-million dollar project began last week to upgrade the airport’s terminal building.

“This community really needs a top-notch facility that can service us for another 15 or 20 years into the future … we’re at capacity now in this little building,” said airport manager Rob Blackburn.

A new departure lounge with a set of washrooms and a main lobby will be built to accommodate 118 passengers comes with a price tag of almost $7.5 million, according to project coordinator John Steward (with an approved budget of $8.17 million), and will provide an additional 5,000 square feet to the existing terminal.

Other noticeable changes to the layout of the terminal, according to Blackburn, will be the check-in, baggage claim, baggage handling and security areas — they’ll be re-organized to improve the flow for passengers.

Before shovels dug into the ground, contaminated soil had to be removed from where the old underground gas tanks were that housed aviation fuel and jet gas. Those tanks were removed over a decade ago.

“We knew that was coming, we’ve worked with our Shell representatives — Shell has taken care of the responsibility of telling us what needed to be done, they’re supplying the experts that know what level of contamination has to be removed and they’ve completely paid for their portion of it,” he said.

Blackburn added about 750 cubic metres of soil was removed.

“[An] airplane has to have somewhere to come from and go to — in order to be competitive in that market, we’ve got to have [those] top-notch facilities that these airlines want to come to, and we’ve got to be able to service those larger planes that are now coming on the market. This is really going to put us in a very strategic position to deal with exactly that,” said Blackburn.

Funding is coming from all levels of government, including $4 million from the federal gas tax fund.

Construction is expected to be completed on the terminal in spring 2019.

Read more in next week’s edition of The Interior News.

Once construction is complete, the exterior of the terminal is expected to look like this. (Josh Casey photo)