Tucson Airport to phase in concourse construction Wednesday - Tucson News Now

Tucson Airport to phase in concourse construction Wednesday

The dust and noise of renovations at Tucson International Airport didn't seem to bother travelers Monday. (Source: KOLD News 13) The dust and noise of renovations at Tucson International Airport didn't seem to bother travelers Monday. (Source: KOLD News 13)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Work is underway at the Tucson International Airport, affecting both the safety and stomach of its passengers.

The TSA checkpoints are getting an upgrade to go along with a food and beverage facelift. As of Monday, Feb. 27, it didn't look like much more than broken down plaster, paneling, and frames on the west side of the concourse, before entering the secured area. But to those who work at the airport, it's a sign of progress.

"It's going to be a little dusty and probably a little noisy at times," said Tucson Airport Authority CFO Richard Gruentzel.

That dust and noise didn't seem to bother travelers Monday.

Things might get a little harder to navigate Wednesday, March 1, when both the A and B terminals start their big upgrades.

New concession and retail companies have taken over the contract at the airport. Kiosks are already set up with small non-perishable food items and travel essentials. Starting Wednesday, refrigerators for more food and drinks will temporarily take over the restaurant space until the new shops come in about nine to 10 months.

"People will still be able to get essentially whatever they need. Food, beverages, all of the travel essentials, news, and books. All of that kind of thing," Gruentzel said.

Local favorites will be moving in. According to the FlyTucson.com website the new options will "include outlets of well-known Tucson area establishments Beyond Bread, El Charro Café, The Maverick, Noble Hops, Sir Veza’s Taco Garage, Thunder Canyon Brewery and Arbuckle’s Coffee."

According to staff members with the Tucson Airport Authority, Noble Hops is planning to build a seating area curbside for departing passengers in an outdoor patio.

"It really puts our best foot forward," Gruentzel said. "As soon as they step out of the airplane, they'll be able to get a flavor of what Tucson is really like."

The airport website said Creative Food Group LLC, is the lead organizer of the new food and beverage concessions, while Hudson Group Retailers LLC is collaborating with Tucson-based Poravion LLC and Cambios y Servicios Inc., Phoenix, on the retail side.

Some frequent travelers said they can do without all the bells and whistles of restaurants. It makes no difference for George Hernandez from Los Angeles, who doesn't want a Los Angeles-sized mess.

"I like it here because it's simple," Hernandez said. He travels back and forth to Tucson. "I don't want to have to deal with (the construction). And hopefully it won't be like (LAX) here."

The convenience Hernandez is hoping for is also why both security checkpoints are being widened in the terminals, to lessen the lines.

The walls on the new Security Checkpoint B came down Monday, revealing construction work being done. Checkpoint B is scheduled to be ready by April, and will serve Delta Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines passengers. Checkpoint A is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2017. It will serve Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and Aeromar passengers.

To Gruentzel, all the work being done each day is one step closer to the end of the $28,328,794 project.

"For everybody who lives in Tucson, it's something that we can really be proud of," he said.

The FlyTucson.com site said Passenger Facility Charges will "finance the majority of the construction for the overall project." The website explains that PFC's are a fee on departing passengers, imposed by airports. Those funds are reserved for terminal improvements. Tucson Airport Authority funds will be used for any costs not eligible under the PFC use.

No city or state tax will be used to fund this project, according to the project plan.

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