Project Gateway – investing in the QCIA

This is a rendering of a Lakeshore Recycling Systems waste and material transfer station being proposed for a Moline industrial park south of the Quad Cities International Airport. CREDIT CITY OF MOLINE

Airports are in an arms race to be more accommodating to travelers and thus more inviting to airlines and air service. If you don’t make investments in airport terminals then you may get left behind.

That’s why we are pleased that the Quad Cities International Airport recently launched Project Gateway – the first public-facing terminal modernization project in nearly 40 years.

The regional airport is planning its multi-year, multi-phase, $40 million to $60 million construction master plan while working to become a leader in the international aeronautical industry, QCIA Executive Director Benjamin Leischner recently told the QCBJ.

The first phase of Project One includes modernizing the oldest parts of the airport’s passenger facility. The project area, which includes the ticketing counters, was last updated in 1985 prior to the establishment of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the invention of the rollaboard suitcase, and the Americans with Disability Act, Mr. Leischner said.

And Project One’s construction schedule is designed in two phases to make it as easy on passengers as possible. “We don’t want people to be frustrated because one of the biggest differentiators that we have as an airport is how easy it is to get through our airport, how quick it is. We can’t lose that,” said Ashleigh Davis, QCIA’s public relations and marketing manager.

Overall, the Project Gateway terminal master plan consists of about five smaller projects. Project One, which is expected to take about a year to complete, will take TSA’s baggage screening devices and processes out of public view. Project Gateway will add a 15,000-square-foot baggage security addition behind the existing ticket counters. 

The next phases are expected to include a redesigned curb front and lobby areas and upgrading the facility’s central core. The latter will include expanding restrooms with companion care restrooms, nursing mother suites, more meeting space, adding new concessionaire space for food and beverage and retail, and an outdoor canopy. 

QCIA’s terminal investment can’t come soon enough because other Midwest airports are also pouring money into their facilities.

QCIA’s closest competitor, the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, is in the fourth and final phase of the airport’s terminal modernization project. Its project includes remodeling the rest of the terminal and adding 32,000 square feet, which will include four additional jet bridges, a larger patio, a sensory room and a pet relief area. When the final phase is complete, the estimated total cost will be $120.9 million.

At nearly 160 miles away, Chicago O’Hare International recently had a groundbreaking on a three-year, $300 million construction project to upgrade Terminal 3. The project is designed to overhaul everything from security checkpoints and baggage claim, while adding amenities and more accessibility.

And a little further away, the Des Moines International Airport is currently working on an ambitious $445 million terminal expansion project slated to open in 2026. The projects includes a state-of-the-art facility with expanded security screening, enhanced gate operations, efficient baggage handling systems, elevated dining, and retail options, and modernized technologies and infrastructure systems.   

The QCIA is the region’s front door. Making these investments is the right thing to do for the airport and the region.  

Get the free QCBJ email newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the people, companies and issues that impact business in the  Quad Cities area.