Plattsburgh International poised for expansion

PLATTSBURGH - Further expansion at Plattsburgh's bustling International Airport is moving closer to reality.

Deputy county administrator Rodney L. Brown said a feasibility study approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is near completion which will determine if the projected number of passengers over the next 20 years will warrant an expansion of the airport terminal and its services. The study, which has been conducted over the last eight months, revealed the number of people who use the airport has grown steadily over the past three years. This year, more than 100,000 people are estimated to use the facility.

"The forecast more than doubles our enplanements in the next five years alone," Brown said.

Though the study is not yet complete, the Clinton County Legislature is comfortable the results will be in favor of expanding the facility, Brown said, and has enlisted the services of engineering firm McFarland Johnson of Binghamton. The firm is currently drawing up preliminary plans, which, as Brown stated, is more difficult than building a terminal "from scratch."

"Because, now you have operations going on that are going to be disrupted," Brown said. "And, you want to make sure whoever is going to be doing this design and overseeing the construction has enough expertise to make sure that the disruption is going to be minimized to the greatest extent possible.

The improvement project would expand the baggage carousel system, increase the number of Transportation Security Administration checkpoints from one to at least three, and roughly quadruple the number of ticket counters, of which there are currently three. The project would also add an additional jet bridge to help with the loading and unloading of passengers.

"We're having a problem now when we're getting two or three flights in at the same time that we can't unload," said County Legislator Robert W. Heins, R-Area 10, who chairs the county airport committee.

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