As the Black Hills region grows over the next 20 years with a larger population base and new businesses, expansion at Rapid City Regional Airport will likely be needed.
That's the conclusion drawn from a draft master plan for the airport released Tuesday during an Airport Board of Directors meeting.
Executive Director Patrick Dame said KLJ Engineering has spent the past several months looking at the projected growth of Rapid City and future needs.
The draft master plan shows the commercial terminal will need to be expanded from seven to 12 gates. Because of the configuration of the airport, Matt Nisbet of KLJ said the concourse addition would need to "dog leg" slightly to the east to avoid existing taxiways and sight-lines for the air traffic control tower.
Additionally, the draft plan shows an expanded terminal area for baggage handling and screening, baggage claim, rental car counters and ticket counters. Outside of the main terminal, the master plan shows a new parking garage and space for a 60- to 70-room hotel, similar to the one at Sioux Falls Regional Airport.
In the general aviation portion of the airfield, the master plan shows a new corporate jet development area with several large hangars, an additional space for a second fixed base operator, new hangars for private planes and an expanded cargo operations area.
Airport Board President Darren Haar said the updated master plan was requested by the board approximately a year and a half ago.
"When you look at the number of people that are moving to this community, when you look at the number of companies that are saying they want to move to this community, we've run into issues in general aviation where we've run out of hangar space, ordeals with cargo — this is a comprehensive plan that really starts to address all of those moving parts," Haar said. "We will have to invest in this airport."
Nisbet told the board that the next steps include reviewing the development concepts with the Federal Aviation Administration and South Dakota Department of Transportation, finalize the requirements, hold focus groups and advisory committee meetings, hold public meetings and finalize the airport layout plan.
The meeting with the FAA is expected to occur in February.
In other business, the airport board approved a request for staff to advertise for bids to design and build a 13,500-square-foot hangar with an additional 5,000 square feet of office space. The estimated cost for the hangar is between $1.85 million to $2.7 million.
"The Airport Board and General Aviation Committee have struggled for the past decade on the need for hangars and the appropriate entity who should construct those hangars," Dame said. "The desire of the existing Airport Board has been for private business to do the initial construction of hangars. However, since new development has been stagnant, airport staff is recommending that the board invest in and build one mixed use facility. This would help meet the need for hangars, corporate hangars and office space on the airfield, and possibly spur additional development."
Dame said improvements to the terminal are continuing. Three new passenger jet bridges will be installed in the concourse to replace older ones at gates 3, 5 and 6. Dame said the first new jet bridge is expected to arrive Feb. 8.
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