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Ford International Airport Breaks Ground on $135M Terminal Enhancement Project

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority broke ground on its $135 million Terminal Enhancement Project (TEP) representing a significant investment in the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

TEP will expand the west end of the terminal, aiming to increase capacity and incorporate sustainable elements to further optimize operations, minimize the airport’s environmental footprint, and enhance the guest experience. The expansion includes:

  • A Consolidated Baggage Inspection System on the lower level of the terminal, streamlining the checked luggage process from the airline ticketing counter through screening and onto the aircraft.
  • An Individual Carrier System (ICS) for baggage handling screening. This will make the Ford International Airport the first small-hub airport in the U.S. to install an ICS.
  • New ticket counter spaces and the consolidation of all airline ticketing counters to the west end of the terminal.
  • Expanded baggage claim area with larger carousels to facilitate a more seamless and modernized baggage claim process for arriving passengers.

“The Ford International Airport is experiencing tremendous growth, recently achieving a record-breaking year in 2023 for number of passengers served annually,” said Airport Authority Board Chair Dan Koorndyk. “The Federal Aviation Administration has recognized our airport as one of the fastest growing in the country, and this investment in our facility will support this continued growth, serving our thriving community for years to come.”

TEP is part of the ELEVATE capital expansion program, which includes more than $600 million in critical infrastructure investments to accommodate passenger growth and air service demands. Additional projects under the ELEVATE program include:

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  • A federal inspection station to support nonstop international commercial passenger flights.
  • The relocation of the federally owned air traffic control tower to make way for diverse terminal-area developments such as additional tenant hangars and more parking.
  • Michigan’s first consolidated rental car facility to provide a dedicated facility for all rental car operations. The project broke ground in 2023 and is expected to be completed in 2025.
  • The expansion and widening of Concourse A, which was completed in spring 2024. This project added eight new gates, additional concession and retail options, modern amenities, and more.
  • Additional parking capacity to accommodate increased guest traffic.

“The airport has been a cornerstone of West Michigan for more than 60 years,” said Tory Richardson, Ford International Airport Authority President and CEO. “We have strategically invested in our facility and campus to ensure we support our region’s economic prosperity and vitality. ... The expansion of our infrastructure is critical to fostering the growth of our vibrant region, ensuring our community has access to essential services through a robust transportation hub that increases opportunities for global connectivity.”

Congresswoman Hillary Scholten has been pivotal in supporting the airport’s growth, securing federal funds to support the construction of TEP.

“Amid this exciting growth, we have to ensure that GRR has the tools to keep up,” said Congresswoman Scholten, who gave remarks via video at the groundbreaking. “Adequate airport infrastructure makes all the difference in preventing flight delays, ensuring passenger safety, and enhancing the traveler experience. Investments in GRR are investments in West Michigan’s future.”

As a key funding partner for TEP, TSA’s Michigan Federal Security Director Reggie Stephens provided remarks on the enhancements this project will make to the airport’s safety and security screening operations from curb front to take-off.

“TSA is proud to enjoy a strong partnership with the Gerald R. Ford International Airport,” Stephens said. “The addition of the inline checked baggage screening system ensures that for years to come, GRR passengers will continue to enjoy a comfortable, convenient, and safe airport traveling experience.”

Kent County Board of Commissioners Chair Stan Stek, who spoke at the event, reaffirmed the importance of supporting the airport’s expansion efforts to ensure the growth of the West Michigan community for generations to come.

“Kent County is not only one of the fastest-growing areas in the state, but also one of the few counties in Michigan experiencing growth in the critical 20- to 30-year-old demographic,” Stek said. “Growth in this demographic tells us that we can anticipate new entrepreneurial initiatives, business expansions, and an increased demand for modernized and innovative public services. ... At Kent County our mission is to assure that everyone in this county has access to the best, most efficient, and innovative public services in the state, and nothing exemplifies this better than what is being accomplished right here at the Ford International Airport.”

The project is expected to be completed in 2027. The Christman Company is serving as the construction manager for TEP, while Corgan is the architect of record. VTC is the design team project manager, with Fishbeck providing project engineering and Beumer Group serving as the contractor for the baggage handling system.

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Your local Trimble Construction Division dealer
SITECH Michigan
Your local Trimble Construction Division dealer
SITECH Michigan