Groundbreaking will take place next spring for a new $26.7 million passenger terminal at Niagara Falls International Airport.
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Board of Commissioners Monday voted unanimously to accept a bid from a Niagara Falls construction firm to make the long-planned terminal a reality.
"It's no longer the proposed terminal for the Niagara Falls airport, it's now officially the new terminal for Niagara Falls. It's exciting to be able to say that with complete certainty," said NFTA Executive Director Lawrence Meckler.
The Walter S. Johnson Building Co. Inc. beat out LaChase Construction Services LLC of Rochester and Sicoli & Massaro Inc. of Niagara Falls with a bid that came in $1.3 million below project estimates. Construction is set to begin early next spring, with a target completion date of July 2009.
The NFTA has identified $14.4 million in funding for the terminal project, and expects to bridge the remaining $12.3 million gap with a combination of state and federal dollars. The authority has preauthorized a bond sale to cover costs until a permanent source of funding is secured.
Meckler said with the state-of-the-art, nearly 70,000-square-foot terminal now "a work-in-progress, rather than a dream," it will be easier to market the Niagara County airfield to airlines and charter companies.
"We can now tell them that in July 2009 they would be bringing their passengers into a beautiful terminal with a true gateway image. That will definitely be part of our pitch as we meet with airlines over the next several months," Meckler said.
In other action Monday, the NFTA board approved selling advertising space at the existing Niagara Falls terminal, a practice which ended several years ago when commercial air traffic all but dried up.
Revenue from the 24 idle advertising display panels could be as much as $7,200 over the next 12 months. Several businesses, including Seneca Niagara Casino, Maid of the Mist, and a number of area shopping malls, have expressed interest in having ads in the airport.
Passengers began moving through the terminal on a regular basis earlier this year when Myrtle Beach Direct Air started flights between Niagara Falls and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The airline will add Florida service next month.
The NFTA is also close to a deal with Kenny Tours, a Maryland tour company which specializes in trips between Ireland and the U.S. Talks are also continuing with Skybus, which is launching new service linking several secondary airports such as Niagara Falls, offering access to major metropolitan areas and attractions at a lower cost.