East Texas Regional Airport terminal set for rehab

LAKEPORT/GREGG COUNTY (KYTX) - Gregg County commissioners on Tuesday accepted a $3.753 million federal grant to renovate and rehab the East Texas Regional Airport terminal.

The 20,000 square-foot terminal was last renovated in the mid-1980s.

This is the first renovation project since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, which Americans commemorate Tuesday. The plan adds Transportation Safety Administration-secure areas, with ticketing queues, airline offices and hallway connection between the holding room and main lobby. A jet bridge will be added to keep passengers from weather exposure, which should prevent passengers to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport stranded at ET Regional Airport from sitting on the tarmac.

The terminal's footprint will be reduced, though public spaces for the lobby, holding room, restrooms and corridors is expanding 34.8 percent in square footage. They are reducing space for airport administration, utilities, baggage handling and tenants. Also, the 2,700 square foot restaurant will be replaced with smaller eatery and concession areas with a smaller kitchen both within and outside of secured areas.
A report 20 years ago suggested that, for every $1 spent by aviation-dependent business, it generates another $1.52 in economic activity. Today, Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt and local economic leaders say that several large employers and smaller employers need a modern, accommodating airport and air services to do business in Gregg County. These terminal upgrades, expected to be completed in 2014, will not only be more attractive to prospective employers but could also improve relations with commercial airlines such as American Eagle, which now provides twice daily flights to and from Dallas/Fort Worth.
"It builds a better, stronger relationship with American Airlines, which uses us for a secondary landing strip when DFW (International Airport) is overcrowded," Stoudt said.
Kilgore Economic Development Corp. Marketing and Development Director Jana Russell adds, "Many of them (employers interested in setting up shop in Kilgore) like a certain amount of curb appeal... They want to know if they can get their best and brightest to relocate to that community, and certainly security, the ability to go back and forth from a company headquarters to the community securely, is an important factor."
Stoudt expects bids for construction to be sought by Dec. 31.


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