Jacksonville Airport OKs Budget to Expand Two Concourses

A $143 million expansion of two concourses at Jacksonville International Airport is on the verge of taking off, with the Airport Authority budgeting almost half the money for the project in its next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

The $60.5 million budgeted for expansion of the terminal and the apron around the building make up the bulk of a $75.2 million capital budget that also includes work on a runway at Cecil Field and the installation of new fuel tanks at Herlong Airport.

The Jacksonville Airport Authority unanimously approved the budget Monday, during a meeting in which it also approved an operating budget based on $60 million in revenue and $39.8 million in expenses, both up slightly from the current year's budget.

The terminal expansion is a major part of the $190 million building program that has been going on for years, with work already having been done to upgrade parking, baggage handling and security checkpoints.

"Everything we've done up 'til now has been practice," said Bob Molle, the airport's director of engineering.

Between now and the end of 2008, the A and C concourses at the airport will be moved closer to Concourse B, opening up room for six more gates to be added to the 14 now there.

During the construction process, the airlines using the existing gates will be moved in turn to concourse B, where temporary gates will be set up to handle the traffic. Although there are no set plans to expand that terminal, Molle said the temporary gates will set the stage if future construction is needed.

"We'll build something that can be built on in the future," he said.

Most of the money being spent on the project over the next year will come from passengers, with the authority committing $29.4 million in passenger facility charges. This money comes from a $4.50 charge that ishas been tacked onto tickets since 2003.

The rest will be paid for with $4.2 million in cash, $21.1 million in state and federal grants and $2.9 million in bonds.

Also Monday, the board approved an employee memorial policy, under which up to $2,000 may be spent to remember workers who have "become deceased while in the service of the Authority." The move to set up the policy was prompted by the recent death of a long-time airport worker.