Hopkins Slated For $1.6 Billion In Improvements

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Describing it as the oldest municipal airport in the country, Mayor Frank Jackson and Airport Director Ricky Smith called Hopkins Airport too small and poorly functional. Smith said everything, from its highway entrances and onsite hotel to ground transportation, terminal design and cargo facilities, have to be fixed to allow future growth.

RICKY SMITH:
"It hampers our ability to accommodate additional air service. We do have interest in growing here, and new carriers bringing service here. However there are significant restraints that prohibit us from doing that right now."

Restraints that will cost billions to correct. The city only plans on paying about 28% of those costs, having secured promises that the Federal Aviation Administration will absorb approximately 44% of the estimated one-point-six billion dollar bill. The rest would come from private developers, which the city says want to add retail and office spaces alongside the revamped airport campus.

Airport officials showed off work already underway replacing radar towers, adding safety features, and moving a prime runway. A new 350-foot, repositioned control tower is slated to be under construction by fall.
Mayor Jackson said additional projects will be constructed as they're needed, stressing that the city will not build what there isn't a clear demand for. But he clearly sees the airport as key to jump starting Northeast Ohio.

FRANK JACKSON:
"Our goal here is to create a high competitive facility so that we can be competitive both nationally and internationally. And so we are making this investment to improve a great regional asset, and again, to position us for the future."

Removing old buildings that in the past kept Continental from expanding was listed as a high priority. Not mentioned was the possibility that top-carrier United/Continental will downsize hub operations at Cleveland Hopkins, or abandon them altogether.

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