Memphis International Airport
’s Concourse B will get a much needed modernization thanks to a new $12.4 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The money will also be used to make improvements to airport security and an access road.
“What we’re doing is an evolution and a reinvention of the airport from a transfer hub under Northwest and then Delta to an origin-and-destination airport,” said Scott Brockman, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority president and CEO.
During the prime of the passenger transfer hub, all 83 gates of the three concourses were occupied.
“With Delta no longer being our largest carrier – they’ve reduced down from 69 gates to about six gates – we now have a total of 17 gates leased, so we will be building out the B Concourse and that will be the primary concourse for all airline operations,” said Brockman.
The terminal and concourse are now more than 50 years old, and $4.7 million of the grant will go towards design improvements.
The reimagined Concourse B, designed primarily by Memphis-based Urban Arc and Minneapolis-based Alliance, will feature high window walls, higher ceilings and more open space, along with moving walkways. Gates will also be resized to better accommodate current planes since some were designed in the 1960s for very small planes.
“The challenge with the B Concourse’s 42 gates is that some of them are sized for really small airplanes,” said Brockman. “We’re also going to take advantage of the opportunity at the same time to seismically improve the concourse. We feel it is prudent on our part to upgrade the facilities to protect against any type of earthquake or tremors we get from the New Madrid Fault.”
Construction will get underway until next spring or summer and should be completed by 2020. Once construction wraps up, all operations on Concourses A and C will be moved to Concourse B and then A and C will be closed down.
Look for the airport to possibly bring in some national brands, which it shied away from in its last plan.
Roughly $5.4 million of the grant is being spent to install a new, higher perimeter security fence along with an upgraded intrusion detection system.
Approximately $1.9 million is being spent on making various security enhancements required by the Transportation Security Administration, and the remaining $400,000 will be used to rehab 300 feet of pavement on the existing commercial access road to the airport to improve drainage and runoff.
Brockman expects to begin developing a new master plan for the airport next year.
“We’ll look at the system as an origin-and-destination airport and set in place the plans for future development over the next 20 years,” he said.