NewsMissoula County


Missoula airport approves $42M price, financing for east concourse construction

Posted at 2:17 PM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 16:17:32-04

MISSOULA - With Phase 1 set to open in the coming weeks, the Missoula County Airport Authority on Tuesday approved a guaranteed maximum price for Phase 2 construction of the passenger terminal.

The $42.3 million agreement with Martel Construction will allow the airport to begin work on the east concourse, making additional room for current airport traffic while setting the stage for future growth.

The latest project is funded by grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, passenger charges, entitlement funds and airport reserves, among other sources.

“It’s the final approach on some very good work,” said authority chairwoman Adrian Beck.

Phase 1 construction on the south concourse is expected to wrap up in the coming weeks. The airport plans to begin operating from the new facility on May 4 and vacate the old terminal, where the east concourse will eventually sit.

That portion of the terminal will include two more jet bridges, two ground-boarding gates, two baggage carousels and car-rental booths. With construction crews already on site and mobilized, airport officials expect an easy transition between south and east.

“It’ll be a very seamless transition and an easier next phase with less moving parts,” said airport director Brian Ellestad. “We won’t have TSA, we won’t have airlines. It should be an easier piece of work and overall, we’re very happy with the bids.”

The airport authority received multiple bids for each element of the project, and most of the subcontractors are now familiar with the work, given their participation in Phase 1.

The estimated cost of the east concourse is up slightly from the original estimate due to inflation and other economic issues. But the airport feels that waiting could be risky. It has set aside a contingency of 8% for the project.

“We feel there’s more risk to wait, if we lose our space in line with all these contractors,” Ellestad said. “We have a favorable interest rate from our partner. We did apply for a discretionary grant that could very easily turn this into a project where we’re doing both Phase 2 and 3 simultaneously.”

Phase 3 would add another jet bridge to the east concourse, bringing to seven the total number of gates throughout the new airport, not including ground boarding.

Airport officials said they feel confident in the plan.

“It’s up a little from our original estimate as we expected, just due to changing market conditions,” said deputy airport director Tim Damrow. “But the majority of the existing subcontractors will continue on as we open bids for that project and move into the next phase.”

Financing notes issued in 2019 for Phase 1 were approved in the amount of $35 million. When that phase of the terminal project is finished, the notes will have a balance of $23 million.

The airport authority on Tuesday also agreed to issue a new round of notes, not to exceed $30 million. The 2022 note will partially fund the east concourse and carries an interest rate of 3.87% through First Security Bank.

“We’ve been working on getting the financing set for the next phase of the project. We had to get moving on this pretty fast. We came up with a pretty solid proposal,” said financial director Teri Norcross.