The Missoula County Airport Authority this week approved a contract to begin designing the second phase of the new airport terminal, though the project’s timeline remains uncertain.
The board awarded the $2 million contract to Morrison-Maierle in a move to nail down anticipated costs, which could determine whether the project begins sooner rather than later.
The board meets next month to discuss the project’s timeline.
“We’re looking for all the different data points,” said airport director Cris Jensen. “One of the things we’d like to do is begin the design for the next phase of the terminal so we can get good price estimates on what it would cost.”
Phase 1 of the new terminal is under construction and is set to open at the end of 2021. That portion of the project, at a cost of $67 million, includes security, administrative offices, ticketing and a south concourse with five gates and new passenger amenities.
Phase 2 would see the deconstruction of what remains of the old terminal. It would be replaced with baggage claim on the first level, a lobby, rental car offices and additional passenger gates on the second level.
Along with the design contract, the Airport Authority also approved a pre-construction contract with Martel for $149,000. Both Martel and Morrison-Maierle have been part of the project since it began through a scoping process several years ago.
“Martel will provide price estimates, plan review and consultation as we go through this design process,” said Jensen.
The east concourse carries an estimated cost of $29 million, less than half the cost of the larger south concourse. The current terminal has grown obsolete and is unable to accommodate today’s passenger counts and aircraft.
Over the past year, Jensen said, funding for the project has surpassed initial expectations, thanks to airport revenues and several federal grants.
Last week, Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines announced an additional $6 million for the project, bringing to $20 million the amount of entitlement grants and discretionary funding the project has received.
The funding has meant less borrowing for the airport, setting up the possibility that Phase 2 could begin sooner than anticipated.
“It’s a little bit of an achievement in and of itself to get the $20 million for a terminal project,” Jensen said. “I’m only aware of one other terminal that we toured that reached the airport improvement cap.”