(New Veranda Concept Contemplated as part of Redmond Airport $200 Million Expansion | Rendering courtesy of Redmond Municipal Airport)
Multi-Phase Plan for Terminal as Soaring Passenger Numbers Hit Million Mark
As 2023 gets underway, preparations are in full swing for the large-scale expansion of Redmond Airport, in a project estimated to top some $200 million over several phases of improvements.
The need for a major increase in terminal capacity has become increasingly pressing as passenger numbers at the regional hub have rebounded from a 2020 low, with the post-pandemic recovery outpacing the national average.
Redmond Airport Manager Zachary Bass said the amount of people coming through the facility annually has now hit the one million mark — a milestone reached far faster than previously forecast — as the region continues its rapid growth in population, business activity and tourism.
With so much traffic at the city-owned airport, holding and baggage claim areas, in particular, have become congested, and seating capacity strained throughout, while previous design limitations have seen second floor space underutilized.
Bass said the holding areas, at both pre- and post-security checkpoints, are struggling to handle volume and there are few options in terms of retail, food and concessions for travelers, adding, “With the expected continued increase in customers, the overall story is we just need more space and better amenities, which people are looking for, and now is the time to position for growth.”
The terminal last saw a major expansion in 2009, but since that time passenger numbers have more than doubled. Master planning regarding future needs has been in the works for several years, culminating in a Terminal Area Concept Plan (TACP) authored by aviation specialist consultants, Portland-based RS&H, released in late 2021.
Using that document as a blueprint, preliminary work has already been undertaken and funds — in the form of federal backing and grants — are either in hand or expected imminently, to cover the approximate $100 million first stage of redevelopment, which will include wholesale upgrades to the West departure lounge.
Bass said the initial phase of the project was the most critical and would include redesign of the second level, adding 50,000 square feet, with additional retail, dining, concessions and six to seven boarding access jet bridges to reduce the number of flights that passengers board via the tarmac.
He reiterated work will be paid for by the airport through its revenue and sources other than by the local taxpayer or a General Obligation bond, and that the beloved Roberts Field facility would retain its small-town Central Oregon feel.
The jet bridges would also provide more efficient boarding and alighting, which would prove particularly welcome in the extremes of winter and summer.
The TACP report stated, “To respond to the increase in demand the Airport recognized the need to consider elements of expansion to allow the facility to evolve and grow accordingly.
“Of initial importance was the ability to provide passenger boarding bridge access to the aircraft from a new second-level departure lounge area. Enlarging this airside element necessitated a review of all other landside and airside processing components to ensure that the facility remains balanced as it develops.”
Bass said customers could expect to see results of initial construction work by spring of next year.
Other elements of the future expansion are set to include:
- Phase 1: West departure lounge expansion and utility plant relocation
- Phase 2: Ticket area/ATO expansion and build-out
- Phase 3: Baggage claim expansion and reconfiguration
- Phase 4: East departure lounge expansion
- Phase 5: Interior reconfiguration and administration build-out (second floor)
The expansion plans were originally estimated to take up to 15 years to complete but that timeframe could be halved thanks to the availability of funds from the recently passed sprawling infrastructure bill.
The facility hopes to land competitive funds in addition to an automatic allocation from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as some $2.9 billion has been set aside for airports across the U.S., for use in improving runways, taxiways, safety and sustainability projects, terminal improvements, airport transit connections and road work.
The overall $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill includes billions of dollars to upgrade America’s transportation network, including roads, bridges and airports.
Design planning for the Redmond expansion included extensive stakeholder engagement through interaction with community leaders, airport tenants (airlines, rental cars, concessions), airport staff and passengers to identify elements/systems needing improvement.
Early discussions resulted in identifying a number of facility consideration “hotspots” as a starting point of the analysis.
To solicit additional perspectives on what elements function well at the airport and where there were opportunities for improvement, a survey was prepared and submitted to the variety of user groups for response.
The study revealed a number of areas prioritized as important, including: 1. Focus on mountain views, 2. Provide more concession options throughout, 3. Maintain small town feel of the airport, 4. Provide more ticket area queuing, ATO and airline operations space, 5. Provide more Airport Administration space and another large conference room, 6. Consider an upper-level area for the public to view the airfield, 7. Improve curbside and roadway access, 8. Provide more baggage make-up area and 9. Include more storage space (near baggage claim for unclaimed bags and for dedicated custodial).
The report’s recommended modifications would result in a facility that can accommodate capacity demands, improve ADA accessibility, increase energy efficiency, allow for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, maximize operational efficiency and enhance the overall passenger experience.
A lodge aesthetic is exemplified in the existing facility through the use of heavy timber and stone. The proposed new design emphasizes the continued “use of warm and natural materials to create an authentic architecture that is rooted in context and connected to its place.”
Expanding on that theme, a familiar gabled roof style is proposed with exposed structure to create destinations at the east and west ends. At each end the exterior wall could be fully glazed extending up into the peak of the gabled roofs offering a maximized viewing position.
Bass, who has been at the airport helm since 2016, and successfully manages a $20M+ annual budget to provide services to commercial airline customers, 126 based aircraft and over 2,500 acres of Airport property, said should the airport get all five phases finished, there could be around 12 additional gates — likely to incentivize more airlines to add additional connections.
Per a state of Oregon economic impact report, the full expansion could add over 200 jobs and produce an economic impact of close to $40 million a year to the region.
New Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch, who took over the reins from long-time leader George Endicott this month, said, “Expansion of the terminal will continue to see the airport be a big economic driver for Redmond and the region in general.
“Along with adjoining 200-acre industrial site ready for development, and potentially bringing a thousand new jobs, and work on better highway connections, these are game changers and through all its preparations, I believe Redmond will end up being the true ‘hub’ for business growth in Central Oregon.”