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Rapid City breaks ground on airport expansion that could take two decades to finish
Pace of multi-phase project dependent on available funding
What could be a $200 million revamp of the Rapid City Regional Airport that’s been nearly a decade in the making is underway.
Black Hills area officials and economic boosters were on hand Monday for a groundbreaking ceremony for the first phase of a multi-year Terminal Renovation and Expansion Project at the aging aviation facility on the outskirts of Rapid City. The improvements — expected in three separate projects over the next decade or two based on available funding — include the expansion of the baggage claim area, security checkpoints, and ticketing areas "to allow additional passenger queuing," according to the airport website.
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In all, the entire project, which has been in planning and design since at least 2017, could be nearly a quarter-billion dollars worth of improvements, according to airport estimates. The first phase of what’s known as Project One, estimated at nearly $30 million, is expanding ticket counters, baggage makeup, and the TSA checkpoint. Monday marked the kickoff of the second phase of the first project, which is valued at more than $20 million.
Future phases of the expansion will include more terminal gates, expanded rental car facilities, and an entirely new addition to the airport.
Rapid City Airport Executive Director Patrick Dame said the enhancements are a culmination of years of preparation. And while the facility has had upgrades over the years, the airport has lacked any significant changes to operational infrastructure.
And that’s what’s up first on the construction docket, he said.
“The first project will deal with what is considered the head house, … it’s more so where a lot of the folks are working,” Dame said while making remarks at the groundbreaking. “We’ve done a lot of work in the places where most of the customers can see on a daily basis. But work that we haven’t done is in spaces to improve efficiencies and workspace for those who are actually doing the work.”
Scull Construction is the lead contractor on Project One. Federal Airports Terminals Program funds are covering the majority of the project. Additional funds will need to be secured before future phases of the project can commence.
But there’s optimism that with the support of the city of Rapid City, the Legislature, and South Dakota’s congressional delegation — all of which were represented at Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony — that’ll happen.
And the Black Hills entertainment and tourism industries are eagerly awaiting the additional capacity for airline passengers the upgrades are anticipated to bring.
“With an average of 50 percent of our concert/event attendees coming from out of state, this is such a great addition to our wonderful city,” read a social media post from The Monument event center, theater, and convention center.