$23 million worth of improvements are bringing the Sioux Falls airport up-to-date, allowing it to handle more passengers. In just a couple of weeks, site work will begin on a new hotel connected to the airport and in a few months, another major renovation will get underway.
For decades, a ramp has carried passengers from the ticket counters to the security checkpoint on the concourse.
"We have what we affectionately call, ‘a cattle shoot situation’ with these moving ramps and they tend to be a safety concern for the airport. We have older people and people with strollers who try to get on those moving ramps," TSP Architect Michelle Holter said.
There have been plenty of people who've fallen on the incline over the years. And while no one has sued the airport, they have filed claims against the airport's insurance company.
Not only will the remodeling project replace the ramp with an escalator, it will also put the elevator in a more prominent position. The two-year project includes two new additions of 18,000 square feet and will increase the potential TSA checkpoint lanes from two to six.
"In 20 to 30 years, we might be building another concourse onto the airport. So we really need to plan now for the space to allow that many people to move through the security area," Holter said.
The project will cost $8 million. While the airport has enough money in reserves to pay for it, it may ask for a passenger facility charge of $2 to $4 on airline tickets. Sioux Falls is one of just three airports in the country that doesn't charge this type of fee.
"I don't think it's that significant of a price to pay to improve on the building. And we have people coming from all walks of life that need a place that's safe and I think it would be an improvement," airline passenger Becky Ruby said.
"It's not an excessive amount of money. I'm not in favor of it necessarily; but it would not affect my choice of traveling out of Sioux Falls. I wouldn't drive to Minneapolis over it," airline passenger Kevin Opp said.