Reno-Tahoe International Airport preparing for the future with new master plan | nnbw.com

Reno-Tahoe International Airport preparing for the future with new master plan

Much has changed at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RTIA) in the last two decades since airport officials last crafted a 20-year master plan. It’s now time to set the course for the next 20 years.

“A lot of things are changing in the community,” Marily Mora, the chief executive officer of the airport, said in a phone interview with the NNBW. “We need a comprehensive plan” rather than revising the old plan.

“The last 20 years we’ve seen significant changes and going forward we’re going to see more.”

The airport has contracted with Mead & Hunt, a national firm specializing in airport planning, to develop the new master plan.

The process will take 16-months and cost $1.8 million. The FAA will pick up $1.4 million of the cost though its Airport Improvement Program Grants, according to a press release. The remaining will be funded through the airport’s Passenger Facility Charge. No taxes will be used for the master planning process.

The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority is seeking public input to craft the new master plan.

The first of four open houses will take place from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thrusday, Nov. 17 at the Reno Sparks Convention Center. People can stop in at any time during those hours to learn more about the master plan process.

Those interested can also see details online and sign up for updates as the plan progresses. The website includes a survey to gather information about what residents and airport users consider important to the future of the airport. The survey will be changed as subjects come up that the authority wants public input about, Mora said.

Mora, who has been with the airport for most of 16 years first as its chief operations officer then as the chief executive officer, noted the many changes the airport has experienced since the last master plan was developed.

During the recession, the RTIA lost one-third of its passenger count, she said. As the economy has picked up, so has airport traffic. Year-to-date in 2016, passenger counts have increased 7 percent and cargo has increased by 18 percent, she said.

Other changes include security challenges, which now play a more obvious and central role in airport operations than they did two decades ago. Technology innovations have made check-ins more convenient among other things, and new options like Uber and Lyft have been added to taxi and bus options, changing the transportation landscape at the airport.

The airport can expect more changes in the coming years.

Planning for the next 20 years begins with a look at numbers and what’s forecast, Mora said, especially changes in the community.

Northwestern Nevada is growing and maturing. With a constant stream of new companies setting up shop in the market, about 50,000 new jobs are expected in the five years from 2015-2020. That will increase the population flying in and out of the airport plus stimulate an increase in traffic from corporate personnel both scoping out the area and flying in and out for meetings.

With data in hand, planners will look at the airport’s facilities and what is needed to be ready for the future.

Does the airport need a new customs area? New terminal? Changes to the concourse? Another baggage carousel? What changes need to be made in ground transportation to accommodate new modes of transportation? Do changes need to be made in the restaurant and retail areas?

Those are more obvious questions, but the planners will also be considering the less obvious.

“Will we have driver-less cars?” Mora wondered. “Will they be parked here (in the airport lot) or go back (to their home base)?”

Once improvements are identified, the planning process will also look at funding options.

“Part of the plan also is a financial plan,” Mora said. “What it costs and a plan for how to pay for it.”

Working with Mead & Hunt on the planning process will be KPS3 for community outreach, University of Nevada, Reno for economic and demographic research and MSA Engineering consultants to provide an assessment on airport facilities.

For more information about the Reno-Tahoe Airport Master Plan, go to http://renoairport.com/airport-authority/supporting-community/airport-plans/master-plan.