By Michael Randall
STEWART AIRPORT — Passenger traffic is down right now, but the Port Authority is about to launch a couple projects designed to accommodate the brighter, busier future it believes will come to Stewart International Airport.
Rehabilitation of both runways, with a preliminary cost estimate of $143.5 million, is slated to begin in April and be completed in the first quarter of 2015.
Bids are to be opened Monday, and that will give the Port Authority a better idea what the work will cost.
A $19.9 million expansion of the terminal to allow for customs inspections and other services for international flights is set to begin in the third quarter of 2014 and be ready by the first quarter of 2016.
In addition, construction of a new state police forensics laboratory, at a maximum cost of $10 million, is set to begin in April.
Gregory Reszka, a senior program manager for the Port Authority, briefed the Stewart Airport Commission on those and other capital projects Tuesday.
Tentative $27M capital budget
Stewart's capital budget for this year is $27 million, which Reszka described as a tentative figure.
Reszka said because of damage from Superstorm Sandy, Port Authority delayed adopting a final capital budget for 2013 while it reassessed priorities.
However, he's reasonably certain the final capital budget for Stewart won't vary much from the preliminary figure.
In fact, given the cost of the three major projects, he's expecting Stewart's capital budget to be much higher in 2014. The costs of those projects will be spread over the course of the next three years.
As much as possible, the runway work will be done at night and on weekends to minimize the impact on scheduled air traffic, Reszka said.
Port Authority committed itself to making $500 million in capital improvements at Stewart when it took over the airport's lease in 2007.
Originally that work was to be done within a 10-year period, but the authority extended its timetable in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008.