Airport Master Plan Is Approved

September 3, 2004
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CASCADE— The Kent County Aeronautics Board has approved a master plan update for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport that will serve as a guideline for the airport’s forecasted growth and development needs through 2023.

The master plan update provides a phased blueprint for short-, intermediate- and long-term airport development in terms of the site’s infrastructure needs and plots the timing of infrastructure build out by the years 2008, 2013 and 2023.

The process included a review of aviation forecasts, demand capacity analysis, a financial feasibility study and environmental impact analysis. The forecasts predict Ford International will see a doubling of both passenger and cargo activity over the next 20 years. General aviation jet aircraft activity is expected to double during that time period, as well.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Michigan Department of Transportation have reviewed the recommended development plan.

An FAA airspace review and approval of the airport’s layout plan is expected this fall, according to Roy Hawkins, planning engineer for the Department of Aeronautics.

No additional runways will be needed over the next two decades, noted Aeronautics Director James Koslosky. But the airport has land preserved for another air carrier runway, should one be needed, he added.

He said the forecasts are based on a 3 percent to 4 percent annual growth rate. Board Chairman John Van Laar pointed out that during the first seven months of this year passenger activity was up 8.36 percent, compared with the national average of 3.2 percent.


Koslosky indicated that the master plan is a continuous planning process. It’s reviewed and updated annually, so projects can be moved forward or pushed back depending on what happens with the forecasts, he said.

The recommended development plan for the next five years includes:

  • Expansion of the passenger terminal to accommodate relocation of baggage screening machines from the ticketing lobby.

  • Expansion of baggage handling capabilities and ticketing areas.

  • Expansion of the air carrier apron.

  • Construction of a parking garage and expansion of existing surface lot parking.

  • Modernization of general aviation facilities.

  • Relocation of the U.S. Post Office facility to the Air Cargo and Trade Center.

  • Relocation and expansion of rental car storage/maintenance facilities.

  • Construction of two additional perimeter/security roads.

Intermediate- and long-range plans include expanded employee parking, site preparation for the Foreign Trade Zone, further renovation of general aviation facilities, expanded air cargo facilities, extension of taxiways and additional surface parking.

The master plan update kicked off in April 2003 and was wrapped up in July.

Koslosky said he had been directly involved in six master plans and master plan updates and has reviewed and approved more than 20 master plans during the course of his career.

“In terms of comprehensiveness, attention to detail and quality of product, this is by far the best master plan I’ve ever been involved with at a professional level,” he told the board. Koslosky credited Hawkins for the way he developed the scope of work and managed the project.

Koslosky also noted that the advisory committee and consultants on the project actually looked 30 and 40 years out to make sure the changes and development they were recommending wouldn’t hinder the airport long term.

At it Aug. 25 meeting, the aeronautics board also authorized staff to advertise for qualified engineering and architectural services to implement the master plan update.    

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