With 2023 anticipated to be the third successive year for a record number of passengers utilizing Mid-America St. Louis Airport in St. Clair County, completion of its terminal expansion project and a new taxiway bridge are anticipated for occurring this summer.
The third phase of the enlarging of the passenger terminal at BLV (the aviation abbreviation used to describe the airport because of its proximity to Belleville), targeted for finalization in the next few months, adds over 41,000 square feet to the existing 53,500 square foot structure for the purpose of not only accommodating the rapidly increasing number of people passing through it but also to provide several new amenities to make their experience there more comfortable, enjoyable and time-efficient.
Along with a new United States Transportation Security Administration screening area designed to accelerate passenger movement through the airport, there are two additional boarding bridges that were recently installed, a service animal relief area, new family restrooms, a nursing room, expanded departure lounge with additional concessions and renovations for accommodating persons with disabilities.
The $34 million project is supported by federal and state grant funding for all but $3 million of it as a result of the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program. There are also improvements being made to the existing terminal under the oversight of Holland Construction Services of Swansea and its many subcontractors with that entire project to be finished by the end of this year.
Deliberations and decisions concerning the progress of this work fall under the purview of the St. Clair County Public Building Commission, appointed by St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, which meets monthly to consider recommendations related to the operations at BLV.
“We are excited to be nearing completion of the critical infrastructure and safety improvement projects that will enhance overall operations at the airport,” Kern said, “which has been seeing significant passenger growth and continues to operate as a joint-use airport with Scott Air Force Base.”
Modernization is a term used by MidAmerica St. Louis Airport Director Bryan Johnson to characterize what is under way, expressing his appreciation for how the appropriate leaders at the federal, state and local levels recognized the importance of this terminal in advance of a larger number of passengers using the services provided there, especially since the winding down of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in more people travelling by air.
Based on what has been recorded for the first three months of this year and adding projected figures which have been formulated from expected usage and advance bookings of flights for all of 2023, the number of BLV enplanements, meaning anticipated customers boarding and disembarking from passenger flights, currently stands at over 172,000 for the entire year through December, up from 162,000-plus in 2022 and 159,677 the previous year.
What is occurring at the terminal site is not the only reason for those involved to feel good about the activities at BLV. Another project there which is nearing completion is the addition of a 3100-linear-foot “taxiway lima” over Crooked Creek for the purpose of providing access to the airport runway from the new Boeing production facility nearby on Illinois Route 4.
While the Boeing plant is expected to be fully operational sometime in 2024, the taxiway lima, costing $37.7 million with the support of grants from the state’s department of transportation and department of commerce and economic opportunity, is slated for completion in early July.
This will not only provide access to and from the Boeing site but also can be used by possible future nearby development entities related to the aviation industry. Incorporating principles and practices associated with environmental and economic sustainability, one of the taxiway lima’s most major components is the 80,000-square-foot bridge spanning the creek. Plocher Construction Company of Highland is the general contractor for this project.