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Upgrades could save Tampa expense of building new airport terminal

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 03:49 PM
TAMPA -

Tampa International Airport's main terminal should be good for another 20 years with some enhancements, a consultant told the Hillsborough Aviation Board on Thursday.

The improvements should allow the authority to delay spending more than $1 billion on a new terminal.

A key component discussed previously but now taking shape in an updated master plan is an automated people mover that would link the main terminal with the economy parking lot and a relocated rental car facility near the airport post office.

Trams similar to those serving airside terminals would reduce vehicle traffic on congested roadways and curbsides. That would help the main terminal handle 30 million passengers annually rather than the 25 million capacity originally envisioned.

"We are studying what we can do to extend the life of the main terminal," said David Rickerson, Southeast division director of aviation planning for HNTB Corp's Lake Mary office, who is heading the airport's first master plan update in a half-dozen years. "This facility should be fine for 20 years."

Other changes beyond the airport post office would include a bus rapid transit station — HART is planning an airport route in a few years if funding can be found — and a connection with a trolley or streetcar that some in the West Shore business district are contemplating. Also included in the 20-year plan is space for a light-rail terminal and a convenience store and gas station.

Thursday's review was the Hillsborough Aviation Authority board's first report on the master plan update, which is scheduled to be approved in February.

Members of the public will have opportunities to give input, including Oct. 25 public workshops at the airport and at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater Hotel, a board briefing on Dec. 6 and a final public workshop on Dec. 12.

Master plan improvements are being driven by airport ridership projections that have been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. That data shows for the first time detailed expectations airport officials have from their plans to expand international and domestic flights.

The projections show outbound international passengers increasing an average of 7.4 percent annually between 2011 and 2031, from about 212,000 in 2011 to nearly 890,000 in 2031. Inbound ridership generally is the same as outbound, though some passengers may use Orlando or Miami airports on one leg of their trip.

Domestic outbound ridership is expected to increase by 2.5 percent annually between 2011 and 2031, from 8.2 million outbound passengers in 2011 to 13.5 million in 2031.

In August, visitors to the Republican National Convention boosted total passenger traffic 3.9 percent compared with year-ago figures to 1.3 million.

In other business, the board by unanimous vote approved a 5 percent raise of $15,000 for airport chief executive Joe Lopano that increases his annual base salary to $315,000. The raise was effective immediately.


tjackovics@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7817

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