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SLO County airport has big plans for a new terminal

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With a small, outdated terminal and only one operational gate, San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport isn’t exactly setting the aeronautical world on fire.

However, plans for a new, expanded terminal and a desired $20 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration could quickly change that.

FRIENDLY SKIES:  As shown in this architectural rendering, the proposed new terminal for the SLO County Regional Airport would be much larger and more modern. The total cost of the project is currently estimated at roughly $30 million. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY REGIONAL AIRPORT
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY REGIONAL AIRPORT
  • FRIENDLY SKIES: As shown in this architectural rendering, the proposed new terminal for the SLO County Regional Airport would be much larger and more modern. The total cost of the project is currently estimated at roughly $30 million.

The SLO County Board of Supervisors will decide whether the airport can apply for that federal grant during its Oct. 28 meeting.

“We want to give the community a new facility, a more modern facility, and something that will last us well into the future,” Assistant Airport General Manager Craig Piper told New Times. “Our current terminal building is dated and tired.”

Piper said the new terminal building is designed to be about 50,000 square feet (compared to the current 12,500-square-foot structure), and it will have four gates (compared to the current airport, which has two gates but only uses one).

According to the staff report for the Oct. 28 meeting, the total estimated project budget is roughly $30 million. Airport staff aim to secure the $20 million FAA grant and fund another $7 million or so through passenger and rental car fees, with only about $3 million coming from “local funds.”

In terms of a rough timeline, Piper said the airport wants to submit its grant application ASAP, expects to hear back sometime in the spring, and—if all goes well—will seek final project approval from the board next summer, with construction beginning in late 2015.

Piper expects construction to take between 18 and 24 months.

“We’re confident that we can secure the FAA grant because it’s geared towards their objectives, and they’ve already given us two smaller grants as we’ve moved through this process,” Piper said.

The airport currently only offers flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Phoenix, but Piper said the possibility of a new terminal—as well as passenger numbers that have ticked up since the 2008 recession—make airport staff confident that expansion of destinations is possible in the future.

“We’re doing really well this year, and we’re pretty excited,” Piper said.

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