Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) As Missoula Montana Airport continues building the second phase of the passenger terminal, it will also consider tackling Phase III, a move that could save costs down the road by rolling one project into the other.

Airport officials are also working to complete a new master plan for the entire airfield. Morrison-Maierle is heading up that effort, and the airfield's runways lie at the center of the process.

“When you think about the airport having to plan, everything is sorted around the runways,” said deputy airport director Todd Damrow. “Trying to figure out what the runways look like here over the next 10 to 20 years is kind of critical to determining how we develop the rest of the airport.”

The airport has a large swath of land just south of the current runway, and past plans have envisioned a second runway paralleling the first if and when air traffic demands it.

The Mullan-area master plan also envisioned light industrial development on airport property south of the current runway. The plan's network of roads and neighborhood design took that possibility into consideration.

“Over the next couple months, that's what we'll have a heavy focus on – making sure our runways are configured appropriately now and in the future,” Damrow said. “From there, we'll branch off to figure out the remaining elements of support services, terminal development and the land-use planning that goes with that master plan.”

A strange back of buried windows was found during demolition. (Missoula airport photo)
A strange back of buried windows was found during demolition. (Missoula airport photo)

Developing a new master plan comes in addition to the airport's current focus, that being the full completion of the passenger terminal. The new south concourse represents the project's first phase and was completed at a cost of roughly $69 million.

The concourse opened for operations earlier this year and the airport has since logged record passenger numbers for two consecutive months. Demolition on what remains of the old terminal is nearly complete and vertical construction is expected to begin soon.

That portion of the project, dubbed the east concourse, will add two more jet bridges. Phase III would extend the concourse, making room for another aircraft. Funding for that portion of the project remains uncertain.

“We'll let the dust settle on the south concourse to see where we're at funding wise, and hopefully go forward and plan for Phase III,” Damrow said. “Once we have those final numbers, we'll know where we ended up.”