Tulsa airport west concourse opens after construction
BY D.R. STEWART World Staff Writer
Thursday, January 19, 2012
1/19/12 at 2:48 AM
As they walk through for the first time, travelers are noticing the skylights 14 feet above the floor.
Next, they marvel at the wide passageways and open space in the $17.9 million reconstructed west passenger concourse at Tulsa International Airport.
But after the "wow" factor is over, airport executives said, travelers will appreciate many other attractions and amenities in the concourse that opened Wednesday after 16 months of construction.
"One of the big things in my mind is having all passengers boarding (aircraft) on passenger boarding bridges," said Jeff Hough, deputy airports director of engineering and facilities. "There will be no ground boarding anymore, which means passengers won't be exposed to the weather."
With the $4.2 million purchase of eight accordian-like enclosed, heated and air conditioned passenger boarding bridges, the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust is conveying passengers in a seamless experience from boarding gates to aircraft.
"Whether it's hot or cold, raining or snowing, it's much more convenient, a better experience for everybody," Hough said.
As part of the concourse project, which began in September 2010, United Airlines moved from its former gates on the east concourse to two gates on the north end of the west concourse.
Continental Airlines, which is merging with United, will vacate its two gates on the east concourse and move to one gate on the west concourse in March, Hough said.
"We have fourth and fifth gates on the B (west) concourse if they want to use them in the future," he said.
Passengers will love the new facilities, said Alexis Higgins, deputy airports director of marketing.
"It's so much more modern, open, light and airy," she said. "The restrooms are so much nicer. We have a family restroom - it's unisex - so people can go in with their young children or elderly people. Instead of a rock wall at the north end of the concourse, there are windows so people can look out on the field.
"It's a total change from where we were before."
The 16-month concourse project transformed the 600-foot-long facility because general contractor Manhattan Construction Co. literally gutted the 52-year-old building.
"We took it back to the studs and put it back together from scratch," Hough said. "It's user-friendly, maintenance-friendly and more efficient from an energy consumption standpoint. There is all new, better insulation in the roof, and the windows we installed are better, more energy efficient.
"Before this project, there were hot and cold spots in the building. We've already learned it's easier to maintain consistent temperatures. From a facilities standpoint, there's improved lighting, heating and air conditioning. We replaced a facility that had been in the building since it was built" in 1959.
In addition to new furniture on the west concourse, passengers in the coming weeks will be able to make use of time before flights in the new business center, which has electrical outlets and will soon have study carrels and Universal Serial Bus (USB) charging ports, airport officials said.
"If somebody hasn't been on the concourse in several months, they will be shocked at the differences," Hough said.
Tulsa International Airport’s reconstructed west passenger concourse:
Construction cost: $17.9 million.
Cost, eight passenger boarding bridges: $4.2
Cost, new furniture: $550,000.
Costs, security, electrical, backup generator,
consulting fees: $7.3 million.
Amenities: skylights, new furniture, business
center with electric and computer outlets,
USB charging ports.
Source: Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust
Original Print Headline: Clean departure
D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451
Rick Matthews (left) and Tom Bookout install a flight display in Tulsa International Airport's rebuilt west concourse Wednesday. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World
Barbara O'Neill of Cheyenne, Wyo., reads while waiting for her flight at Tulsa International Airport's rebuilt west concourse Wednesday. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World