Airport prepares to move TSA, extend access road as terminal project nears

The TSA checkpoint at Missoula International Airport will be moved from its current location later this year to make way for the first phase of the new passenger terminal. (Missoula Current file photo)

Despite concerns over whether Congress will fund the federal government with any long-term certainty, Missoula International Airport is pushing ahead with plans to begin the multi-phase redevelopment of its dated passenger terminal.

On Tuesday, the Missoula County Airport Authority awarded two contracts to Martel Construction to begin early phases of work involved in building the new terminal, including construction of an extended access road for passenger drop-off and the relocation of TSA, both of which could take place after Labor Day.

“We’ll be switching our TSA checkpoint from its existing spot into the center of the building,” said Tim Damrow with the airport. “The intention is to stage ourselves for the first part of demolishing that existing wing for our construction project.”

The airport board approved a $19,900 contract with Martel for work involved in moving TSA. The security checkpoint will be relocated to the center of the existing airport lobby, after which the western-most wing will be torn down to make way for the first phase of a new terminal.

“We have our security nerve centers in the building that will be relocated, as well as the checkpoint, so there’s a lot of moving pieces,” said Steve Martel of Martel Construction. “This is all very important for the security of the airport, and it has to happen in a timely fashion.”

The airport authority also approved a second $5,700 contract with Martel to prepare for work on the access road. The road will be extended west, also in preparation of the new terminal.

Both contracts continue Martel’s involvement in preparing for the terminal, which is expected to undergo construction early next year. The project will add several new gates in two concourses, as well as more seating for passengers.

“We attended all the meetings, did budgets, went out to the marketplace to talk to subcontractors and suppliers, and compiled the overall project budget for the new terminal,” Martel said. “All the new utilities for the terminal project will be in the access road, so we really want to be involved in that to make sure it’s coordinated really well.”

The timeline for work on the access road is dependent upon a number of factors, though Shawn Shea with Morrison-Maierle said the design work is 80 percent complete. The company plans to meet with airport officials to discuss phasing the work, along with other needs involved with the larger terminal project.

Bid documents on the access road should be ready this spring, Shea said.

“We want to know what we have left for airport improvement program entitlements so we know how far we can continue with the terminal access road,” Shea said. “We’re not going to extend ourselves beyond the entitlements we have available. We don’t want to get caught out there during the busy season, so the significant construction out in front of the terminal would happen basically after Labor Day.”