SPOKANE — Spokane International Airport will be undergoing what it describes as its most expensive construction project in history to meet growing passenger demand.
The airport broke ground Thursday on the first phase of its $150 million terminal expansion and renovation project — or TREX.
The project is the first significant terminal renovation and expansion to occur at the airport in more than 23 years, according to airport officials.
“We must create a world-class experience that welcomes passengers to Spokane International Airport,” said Larry Krauter, Spokane International Airport CEO. “Comfort, efficiency and friendliness will be the introduction to a region full of opportunity.
“The architecture will reflect the natural beauty and heritage that exists here, combined with modern attributes that express the forward direction of our community.”
The project calls for a 144,000-square-foot expansion that will add three new gates and six airline ticket counter locations in Terminal C. On the east side of the concourse, current ground boarding gates will be replaced with three passenger loading bridges with upgrades to existing gates.
The terminal also will receive upgrades to its heating, venting and air conditioning system, in addition to security improvements, according to the airport.
Nancy Voorhees, Spokane Airport Board chair, said the TREX groundbreaking comes at a crucial time after more than 2.5 million passengers traveled through the airport last year, fewer than the record-breaking 4 million travelers in 2019.
The airport estimates more than 6.2 million passengers annually will travel through the facility by 2030.
“As the Spokane region continues to grow, the need to have a terminal facility to handle increasing demand is paramount,” Voorhees said.
“ The extra capacity will also benefit the airport’s air service efforts by offering opportunities to both potential and current airline partners to add existing service or expand nonstop service to new destinations.”
The LEED-certified project replaces and upgrades aging infrastructure, lighting, gate hold technology, baggage handling systems and escalators and elevators.
TREX also calls for ADA-accessible improvements; companion care and nursing-mother spaces; pet relief areas; and new concession, food and beverage options.
The project will use common terminal equipment, which is technology that enables gates to be used by multiple airlines.
The first phase of TREX will create nearly 1,200 construction and professional jobs, according to airport officials.
Suppliers also will benefit from job creation spurred by the project, Krauter said.
“One thing that’s often left out of the equation is we have to go and buy a lot of items to bring into the project — ductwork, computer systems, panels and ceiling tiles,” Krauter said. “And to see those construction dollars just circulate and multiply through the regional economy is really what it’s all about.”
TREX will be funded by a combination of bonds, passenger facility revenue and federal funding, including an $11 million grant from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Airport Terminals Program.
The airport employs more than 3,000 people and has a more than $3 billion annual economic impact for the region, said Al French, Spokane County commissioner and airport board vice chair.
“The additional capacity will also offer greater market opportunities to increase connectivity to Spokane, benefiting local economic development efforts to recruit companies to relocate and expand within S3R3 Solutions’ public development authority boundaries as well as other locations throughout Spokane County,” French said.
Minnesota-based Architectural Alliiance International and Wolfe Architectural Group, of Spokane, are designing the project. Spokane-based Garco Construction and Q&D Construction of Sparks, Nevada, are the project contractors.
The first phase of TREX is expected to be completed in 2025, according to airport officials.
Subsequent phases of TREX include a central hall with a TSA security screening checkpoint for all airlines, a post-security hallway connecting the A/B and C concourses, a consolidated baggage claim, a new operations center and relocation of the rental car facility.
Those phases are dependent upon future availability of grant dollars, Krauter said.
“If we are successful and continue to see this phase funded, it actually makes it very likely and feasible that we’ll move into that second phase,” Krauter said. “I would say probably you’ll hear more about that in the 2025 time frame.”