Two airports in Northern New York received state funding totaling $46 million to enhance their terminals.
Ogdensburg International Airport was awarded $18 million; this will complement other improvements made there in recent years. Watertown International Airport secured $28 million.
Both airports will receive the funds through the Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition administered by the state Department of Transportation. Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul announced Sept. 14 that nine airports will get a total of $230 million.
“The project at Watertown International Airport will reconstruct and expand the airport’s 20,000-square-foot terminal at the facility in the town of Hounsfield. According to the governor’s office, the project will also include improvements to the Transportation Security Administration screening and baggage handling areas; installation of flight information displays and a visual paging system; construction of additional baggage claim space; construction of a new hold room with modern seating, charging stations, natural lighting and airfield views; and construction of flexible space for restaurant and classroom spaces available to the non-traveling public,” according to a story published Sept. 14 by the Watertown Daily Times.
Improvements at the Ogdensburg International Airport will include “the renovation and expansion of the terminal building as well as exterior improvements. The project will install innovative and energy efficient technologies, upgraded security doors and sprinklers, new passenger information display systems and improved Wifi,” a news release issued Sept. 14 by Hochul’s office reported. “It will also utilize design themes that reflect the airport’s surrounding community and character. The terminal expansion portion of the project entails the expansion of the lobby for check-in, ticketing and baggage drop; expansion of the TSA screening area; expansion of concessions space; and creation of new space for large community events. Moreover, for exterior improvements, the project will extend the entrance canopy; create an elongated curbside drop-off and pickup area; and install solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations in the parking area.”
These are significant investments in two local airports that have long served our region well. Hopefully, these improvements will lead to increased use of both facilities and additional flight options.
“The Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition was administered by the New York state Department of Transportation and was open to upstate commercial passenger service airports and airports providing specialized service for commercial aircraft and/or corporate jets,” according to the news release. “Applicants were encouraged to apply for funding a single project or a program of projects that will help meet the demands of the 21st century. Examples of eligible activities included but were not limited to the planning, design and construction of state-of-the-art boarding concourse and concession areas, terminal expansion or rehabilitation, improved security screening, opportunities to move passengers more safely and efficiently with improved distancing during and after the [novel coronavirus] pandemic, new innovations in contactless technology and an increased focus on cleanliness and disinfection. Projects submitted for review by eligible airports were evaluated based on established criteria, including but not limited to innovation in design, passenger amenities and experience, operational efficiencies, and economic effectiveness for the airport’s region.”
Well-run airports increase a region’s chances of enhancing economic opportunities. Due to our close proximity to Canada, north country airports are vital to redevelopment efforts. It’s wonderful that the state selected the facilities in Ogdensburg and Watertown, and we encourage officials to continue improving service for the benefit of their passengers.