A CLOSER LOOK: Massive XNA enhancements ahead

A Closer Look

HIGHFILL, Ark. (KNWA) — Big changes are ahead for the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport.

Approximately $60 million in renovations, improvements and additions are coming to XNA, including new bridges, a new entrance and improvements to the terminal, lobby and baggage claim area.

“Some will be initiated and completed based on phasing and the need for the space based upon the triggers mentioned above,” said Airport Director Kelly Johnson. “The Board will continue to work this over the next several months to create a strategic plan that considers timing, need and funding. These multiple projects will take years to complete, the timeline will be based on need, phasing and funding.”

Circulation bridge design. Provided by Kelly Johnson, XNA director.

The bridges include a circulation building/bridge that will cost $28,020,000 and an interior bridge that will cost $12,660,000.

The interior bridge is a key component to both terminal and lobby improvements, according to Johnson.

“You will see the elevated interior lobby bridge, new elevators, escalators and potentially relocation of rental car operations to another area so the baggage claim area can be remodeled to create additional baggage claim units and replace the slant plate systems with flat plate baggage units,” Johnson said.

The new entrance is designed to be helpful to passengers, Johnson said.

“With the addition of the new parking deck there is an opportunity to not only create the needed space but also to make the process of getting to the checkpoint easier for those passengers not checking a bag who already have their boarding passes,” Johnson said. “It would be a nice passenger experience to cross over the roadway system instead of crossing the drive lanes. It would be a nice improvement to provide the customer that experience at some point in the future.”

Interior bridge design. Provided by Kelly Johnson, XNA director.

Members of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Board and Access Road Task Force have been working for three years planning the improvements.

“A detailed terminal review started in 2016 and was completed in 2017 to assess the potential needs based upon triggers of the number of boarding passengers here at XNA,” Johnson said. “The first design team was brought on board last year to begin looking at the projects that are not already under contract and construction.”

The $60 million to fund the improvements will come from existing airport funds, federal and state grants and the issuance of debt to complete some or all of the work, according to Johnson.

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