Watertown, Ogdensburg airports awarded $46 million from state for terminal expansions

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New York state has awarded $28 million for a new terminal at Watertown International Airport and $18 million to the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority to expand and renovate Ogdensburg International Airport.

Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul announced the projects and the accompanying funding Wednesday in Binghamton as part of $230 million in state grant money to nine upstate airports for revitalization.

“Our upstate airports are our gateways to local economies and make lasting impressions, connecting New Yorkers and tourists to the beautiful destinations that the Empire State has to offer,” Gov. Hochul said in a statement. “By making critical investments to further modernize facilities across upstate New York, we are lifting upstate airports to new heights and providing a 21st century transportation experience that travelers expect and deserve.”

The project at Watertown International Airport will reconstruct and expand the airport’s 20,000-square-foot terminal at the facility in the town of Hounsfield. According to the governor’s office, the project will also include improvements to the Transportation Security Administration screening and baggage handling areas; installation of flight information displays and a visual paging system; construction of additional baggage claim space; construction of a new hold room with modern seating, charging stations, natural lighting and airfield views; and construction of flexible space for restaurant and classroom spaces available to the non-traveling public.

The project will also involve constructing a new jet bridge to accommodate additional aircraft types and improve customer boarding. To accommodate current and future airlines at the airport, additional ticketing counters will be installed. The project also includes installation of a dedicated rental car counter, the governor’s office said.

Ogdensburg airport manager Stephanie L. Saracco said there will be “a lot of upgrades — some you’ll see, some you won’t.”

“They’ll all enhance the customer experience at the airport,” she said.

The terminal renovation will add a convention center that can be used while the airport runs. It will be available to the public.

“There’s going to be expansion of terminal building, and there will be a public event center, room for that where it can be used simultaneously with the airport,” she said. “That area can be expanded and contracted, as necessary, for events or any other kind of public gathering. It will be done so that the airport will continue to operate as normal.”

Ms. Saracco added that an expanded terminal, “from ticketing to gate areas to baggage claim areas,” makes the experience easier for passengers going through the airport.

“It’s easy to navigate right now. It will become easier,” she said. “It has technological upgrades as far as Wi-Fi systems go, air cleaners to enhance our HVAC system for sanitizing the air.”

The interior terminal work upgrading the ventilation system is aimed at preventing the transmission of airborne germs.

“Things that have really come to light during COVID about sanitation of airports, and we’re going to try and use as much of that technology as we possibly can to enhance the safety of everyone in the building,” Ms. Saracco said.

Outdoors, the passenger pickup and drop-off area will be covered. She said they plan to “extend the canopy over the entrance to the airport, so when people either drop off or pick up passengers, they’re in a covered area, making it easier for folks to get in and out of the airport.”

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