Metro-East News

MidAmerica renovation design contract approved, but funding is still up in the air

Here’s why MidAmerica Airport is seeking federal grant money

MidAmerica Airport is seeking more than $24 million in federal grant money for terminal improvements. St. Clair County would have to pay $6 million to 7 million toward the project to cover what the federal grant wouldn't.
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MidAmerica Airport is seeking more than $24 million in federal grant money for terminal improvements. St. Clair County would have to pay $6 million to 7 million toward the project to cover what the federal grant wouldn't.

Airport leaders approved a $2.1 million design contract for proposed renovations at MidAmerica Airport, though a grant for the project has not yet been approved.

If the Federal Aviation Administration does not award the grant to MidAmerica Airport, the renovations will not take place, airport Director Tim Cantwell has said.

The design contract with Springfield-based engineering and design firm Crawford, Murphy and Tilly will encompass the entire scope and all fees for the proposed project.

The project would improve the flow of foot traffic at the more than 20-year-old facility, which was built prior to 9/11 security standards. Passenger counts have increased year over year to make MidAmerica the sixth-busiest passenger terminal in Illinois, according to airport numbers.

“This is an aggressive move for the county and the airport,” Public Building Commission chairman Richard Sauget said. The Public Building Commission oversees and manages the airport on behalf of St. Clair County.

It’s not clear when the FAA will make the final determinations on grant funding, said Dan Trapp, director of engineering and planning for the airport.

enplanements2012-2017.jpg
This chart shows passenger boarding numbers for smaller airports in Illinois from 2012 to 2017. The data does not include Chicago O’Hare International and Chicago Midway International airports. MidAmerica Airport

But local dollars would still have to pay for an expected 25 percent of the project as part of a match agreement with the FAA, if the airport is awarded the grant at all. Local tax dollars would pay for $6 million to $7 million of the $24 million to $28 million project.

Other changes to the airport would include, among other projects:

  • Baggage area relocation and expansion;

  • Relocation of the concessions area;

  • Reconfiguration of Air Terminal Drive and terminal drop-off area;

  • Upgrades to roadway signage;

  • Relocation and expansion of gates;

  • A new passenger loading bridge for Gate 4; A new family restroom; A new service animal relief area.

Members of the public will have a chance to learn more about the project and share their thoughts at a scheduled open house from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29 near the baggage claim area at MidAmerica Airport (9656 Air Terminal Drive, Mascoutah, Illinois, 62258). Free one-hour parking will be available to visitors.

Details of the proposed project are available at the airport’s master plan website at https://bit.ly/2zBM4US.

In other business

The Public Building Commission took other actions at its meeting:

  • Commissioners approved a $15.9 million budget for the commission’s 2019 fiscal year, a 16 percent increase from its 2018 fiscal year budget, for all capital projects in St. Clair County. The commission oversees all buildings and facilities in addition to overseeing the airport. The county has “lived outside our means” for some time, County Administrator Debra Moore said. The “significant overall increase” brings the county “more in line with our reality,” Moore said.
  • Commissioners also approved a $4.8 million budget for the airport’s 2019 fiscal year, a roughly $225,000 increase from this year.
  • Commissioners approved $800,000 for a new chiller and electrical work at the St. Clair County Jail.

Kelsey Landis is a watchdog and local government reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat. She focuses on informing you about how public figures are using your tax dollars, and that includes keeping an eye out for wasteful spending.


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