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      City commission approves airport construction project

      I t's a $4.2 million project that's taken a few years for city officials to approve, but now the Rick Husband International Airport will be going through another phase of construction.

      " W ell this is something we've been working on for quite a while, but it was identified as a need back in the early days of planning our terminal, of course that was recently completed a couple years ago ," City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said.

      T he project is broken down into three phases. Aviation Director Pat Rhodes expects the final product to include the following.

      "W hat we're doing is taking the four existing rental car services that have been around for probably 20-25 years and we're going to build a new consolidated center ," Rhodes said. "M ove all the cars into that and in future projects, we'll demolish the existing facilities."

      According to Rhodes all the rental cars will be accessible to drivers at the west side exit. The new facility will be located in the parking lot west of what now the airport calls the employee parking lot.

      Atkinson sa id the up-front funds for the project are already in place.

      " T he expense is born by the airport fund. Those funds are dedicated funds, dedicated revenue." he said. "They are generated at the airport, by the airport. They have to stay there by law. They have to be used there."

      T hrough a customer facility charge, the airport receives $3 for every lease day a car is rented. On average, the charge generates $612,000 a year, so Rhodes expects the project to pay for itself within seven years.

      " W e can't let the facilities deteriorate to where they can't be used, and then have to build new ones. " Rhodes said. "Y ou got to stay ahead of time and those facilities that are out there right now are inefficient."

      The project is expected to take a little more than a year to complete, and as of now, there is no start date.