The Chattanooga Airport board and the public got a first look at the future terminal expansion project, and some of the features the designers have planned. Principal architect Ray Boaz called the current airport an “iconic building” but pointed out several places where it could be improved.
In order to facilitate many of these improvements, there will be 26,157 square feet of new space. An existing 14,626 square feet will renovated for a total square footage of 40,783 for this project. Aesthetically, the redesigned terminal will prominently feature glass and thus will have more natural lighting.
Inside the terminal, one of the priorities will be creating a third lane for TSA.
Because the airport will need to continue to function as renovations are occurring, this section will be completed in even smaller steps in order to accommodate these needs.
“There is an addition that has to be made to accommodate the TSA, so there will be a smaller addition, then TSA can be relocated, we can renovate the area, and then TSA will move back to that area,” Mr. Boaz said. “So the number one priority is to get TSA established in their new situation.”
Mr. Boaz also showed images of a café-type area located in the space right after one ascends the stairs or escalator, but before going through TSA. He described this area as a place where people can grab a drink and relax before going through security.
This redesigned terminal should have several more gates to give the airport more places to bring passengers in and out. Another area of need was restrooms, so the designers have included several new restrooms, including an associated support room.
“That’s a mother’s nursing room, or a family restroom, or a service dog relief station. Those items are associated with this restroom,” Mr. Boaz said. “Now, the airport has really started to address needs that can’t be existing restrooms.”
An “upscale” restaurant is also something Mr. Boaz addressed during his presentation. This restaurant would be located “post-security” after passengers have gone through security. Other air-side improvements will include a seating area with chargers. In all, Mr. Boaz said the project could take anywhere from 18 to 24 months, or longer, when started.
“There’s a lot of phasing to keep the airport in operation, especially the TSA screening operation,” Mr. Boaz said. “It’s going to take a lot of coordination with TSA.”
Even though this project will take years to complete, the architect said it will be worth waiting for, as it should improve the experience within the airport.
“It’s trying to make what can be a stressful part of traveling a little less stressful and a little more welcoming and easier to navigate,” Mr. Boaz said.
President Terry Hart said the first part of the project will cost around $14 million, and said the airport has been awarded a grant as well.