Baggage claim to get upgrade
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: December 22, 2012
Jackson Hole Airport officials will tear down a portion of the main airport building to make way for a new $18 million baggage claim system.
The new baggage claim will take up more than 13,000 square feet of a new 30,000-square-foot building. Admini-strative offices, a mechanical room, bathrooms and other facilities round out the rest of the space.
The system is a significant upgrade over Jackson Hole Airport’s existing baggage claim, which airport director Ray Bishop said is 15 to 20 years old.
“The current system was designed for about 300 passengers an hour,” Bishop said. “The new one should be able to accommodate 1,800 an hour. We’re way undersized for the number of travelers we get.”
The new baggage claim system, which will consist of four 140-foot conveyor belts, is designed to allow for increases in future air traffic, Bishop said. The highest volume of passengers the airport handled over the past year was 1,413 an hour, he said.
The Jackson Hole Airport board of directors voted to approve the project at a meeting Wednesday. One board member, Jerry Blann, voted against the proposal, reasoning that the airport should look at more “value engineering” before proceeding.
Within the next month, airport officials plan to seek bids from prospective contractors. Groundbreaking is planned for May alongside the relocation of some administrative offices near the construction site.
There will be a couple months of “underground work,” Bishop said, and then the construction will “go quiet until April 2014.” At that time, the airport plans to tear the old building down and will begin operating out of a tent.
Funding for the project is coming from a number of sources, Bishop said. Jackson Hole Airport will take out $7 million in loans, another $7 million will come from federal entitlement funds, and the airport was awarded a $2 million grant from the state. The last $2 million will come from the airport’s general operating budget.
The new system will be designed to better accommodate winter travelers with skis and snowboards in tow, Bishop said. During ski season, one of the four new conveyor belts can be lifted into a vertical position to accept such gear.
The larger baggage claim comes on the heels of a number of upgrades to the Jackson Hole Airport. Within the past year, construction has wrapped up on a new glycol recovery pad and centerline lights on the airport’s runways.