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Grand Rapids Airport (GRR) News and Developments


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10 minutes ago, MJLO said:

They didn’t do a press release for it, but GRR’s January traffic was up 18.5% to 304k people.  I’d be surprised if that wasn’t the busiest January on record.  I’m sure favorable weather helped  play a role. To be up almost 20% after several consecutive years of double digit growth is pretty good. I’m sure traffic stats for the whole year won’t be that good, but if it keeps up that pace it will finish the year pretty close to 4 million passengers in 2020.

I don't fly often but last Friday night at 6pm you could hardly walk through concourse A.  I was shocked. Good thing they are expanding it. Thankfully, security was speedy!

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I listened to a presentation yesterday by the airport's  Facilities Manager. This info is from notes I took. I tried to get info i thought you all would be interested in. 2020 had $78.8 M of capi

Below are some photos of the new addition taken this past weekend.   Hard to describe, but this is a drastic change to how the airport feels.   It used to feel very small walking up the low, dark ramp

WARNING: old man long story coming up: Sure GRR can handle large planes.  In fact, on July 26, 1989 a flight from Grand Rapids set the non-stop distance record for a commercial twinjet, 8,893 s

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48 minutes ago, mgreven said:

I don't fly often but last Friday night at 6pm you could hardly walk through concourse A.  I was shocked. Good thing they are expanding it. Thankfully, security was speedy!

Sunday I was out for a bike ride in rural Ada and within 10 to 15 mins counted at least 5 planes lined up coming into the North/South runway. It was crazy. Never seen that much air traffic for GRR.

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All it took was a few low-cost carriers to come in and break up the price gouging and limited offerings of the majors and the public has responded favorably.  I fly quite often and while the construction is a pain, I always look forward to the next improvement they unveil.

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2 hours ago, NoDustBusterNoMore said:

Bids for the steel on this are due this week. And if I'm looking at the proposed construction schedule correctly, you all should start seeing movement on construction beginning in April, with a proposed end date out in April 2022.

Which expansion is this?

Never mind! The $90 million concourse A expansion they announced in August! 

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4 hours ago, joeDowntown said:

Nitpicky, but one thing I’d love to see as they expand the concourse is a little bit more height. GRR is looking really nice (especially as they finish the ticket area and “ramps” up to security). But I’ve always hated how low the ceilings are when you get off a plane. Gives it a very small feel. 

Joe

The renderings look like they will add a lot of height, length and width to the A Concourse but the question Would be can they add to the main part of the terminal? There may be just enough room to add a traffic ramp for a second level for drop-off / check-ins to help with traffic flow, that and the tunnel under the north runway for direct connection with I-96 would make it seem like a “full sized” airport after these improvements!

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I’ve never understood the need for a tunnel. Even if the airport doubled in size, I don’t see the entrance off Patterson as being a hindrance. I can’t imagine how much a tunnel project would cost, but i don’t  see the cost/benefit matching up. 

Joe 
 

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11 hours ago, joeDowntown said:

Nitpicky, but one thing I’d love to see as they expand the concourse is a little bit more height. GRR is looking really nice (especially as they finish the ticket area and “ramps” up to security). But I’ve always hated how low the ceilings are when you get off a plane. Gives it a very small feel. 

Joe

The renderings I've seen and posted earlier in this thread show quite a bit of height increase on concourse A

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26 minutes ago, jthrasher said:

The renderings I've seen and posted earlier in this thread show quite a bit of height increase on concourse A

Sorry, I should have clarified. As they expand Concourse A, I hope they can continue that height to the old portions. From the renderings, it looks like they aren't doing much to the existing section of Concourse A. I'm sure it won't happen in the near future, but hope eventually Concourse A and B will be redone to increase the heights all around. 

Joe

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7 minutes ago, joeDowntown said:

Sorry, I should have clarified. As they expand Concourse A, I hope they can continue that height to the old portions. From the renderings, it looks like they aren't doing much to the existing section of Concourse A. I'm sure it won't happen in the near future, but hope eventually Concourse A and B will be redone to increase the heights all around. 

Joe

I agree.  I could be wrong but on the renderings  it does seem that a good portion of the original concourse is changed.  There is a lower section closer to the main building but the area with the low roof seems like it would be much shorter compared to what is currently existing based on the scale of the renderings.  Hopefully thats the case. 

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27 minutes ago, joeDowntown said:

Sorry, I should have clarified. As they expand Concourse A, I hope they can continue that height to the old portions. From the renderings, it looks like they aren't doing much to the existing section of Concourse A. I'm sure it won't happen in the near future, but hope eventually Concourse A and B will be redone to increase the heights all around. 

Joe

Can't really tell from the renderings, but they are widening the existing portion of Concourse A by about 25'.

image.thumb.png.dfa090652c8902e2abc7dc2c4d3242e0.png

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49 minutes ago, NoDustBusterNoMore said:

Can't really tell from the renderings, but they are widening the existing portion of Concourse A by about 25'.

image.thumb.png.dfa090652c8902e2abc7dc2c4d3242e0.png

Is this a new rendering?  That big glass section isn't in the renderings I've seen earlier in this thread

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5 hours ago, joeDowntown said:

I’ve never understood the need for a tunnel. Even if the airport doubled in size, I don’t see the entrance off Patterson as being a hindrance. I can’t imagine how much a tunnel project would cost, but i don’t  see the cost/benefit matching up. 

Joe 
 

A tunnel for direct I96 connection would shave a good 5 minutes and a mile off every vehicle travel between downtown, north and east of the airport equating to thousands per day, which in turn would alleviate one of the busiest stretches of road in 28th between Patterson and 96 which is only 2 lanes in each direction. 
 

the airport end of it is open to build it and so is the newer 96 ramps that abruptly end at the airport property. I see two barriers in the way being the small runway And the train tracks on the north side of the airport. 
 

the smaller sized runway would be considerable cheaper to build a tunnel than say the commercial grade runways (by the way already have a tunnel for airport vehicles) and the airport has stated the runway is due for a rebuild. 
 

tunnels under runways are nothing new Or exotic and can be found at many airport including DTW, ATL and LAX to name a few as well as places like Holland’s west MI regional airport on a similar sized runway for a pass through road with little traffic. 
 

the aerial view of traffic flow to the airport is frustrating since it’s adjacent to an interstate with an exit there and no direct connection, can’t think of another airport in the country with a better opportunity to do so and hasn’t acted yet. 

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I'm not saying they are new or exotic, but what is the price of a tunnel? $20M? $50M? $100M? I think getting better traffic flow from 36th to Patterson (I think the Patterson light needs some tweaking and more turn lanes). Maybe widen Patterson a bit (add an express lane from the airport to 36th?), change the lighting or radically change the intersection at the airport so you don't get stuck at the light. 

My thought is that a bunch of improvements could be made before tunneling under the runways (which I thought someone said was a non-starter at this point). Maybe tunnels are less expensive than I thought?

Joe

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4 hours ago, joeDowntown said:

I'm not saying they are new or exotic, but what is the price of a tunnel? $20M? $50M? $100M? I think getting better traffic flow from 36th to Patterson (I think the Patterson light needs some tweaking and more turn lanes). Maybe widen Patterson a bit (add an express lane from the airport to 36th?), change the lighting or radically change the intersection at the airport so you don't get stuck at the light. 

My thought is that a bunch of improvements could be made before tunneling under the runways (which I thought someone said was a non-starter at this point). Maybe tunnels are less expensive than I thought?

Joe

A cost for something like that may be irrelevant since the airport tends to self fund it's projects, and they aren't afraid to go big.  I do think a direct connection inbound from I-96 would be a good ideal.  I don't know if anyone has mentioned it but there already is a two lane tunnel that goes under the north/south  runways for an access road off of Thornapple River DR  entrance.  

EDIT:  I just saw that @GR8scott mentioned the existing tunnel.

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Anyone know where GR ranks currently (2020) in the US for passenger traffic?  Are we now in the top 50?  I'm having difficulty finding up to date stats.  304k x 12 would put us at around 3.65M annually, but I know the numbers can fluctuate seasonally..

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3 hours ago, MJLO said:

A cost for something like that may be irrelevant since the airport tends to self fund it's projects, and they aren't afraid to go big.  I do think a direct connection inbound from I-96 would be a good ideal.  I don't know if anyone has mentioned it but there already is a two lane tunnel that goes under the north/south  runways for an access road off of Thornapple River DR  entrance.  

EDIT:  I just saw that @GR8scott mentioned the existing tunnel.

Also could be covered with federal funding. No expert on the cost But should be similar size and scope to the 4 lane 880 ft one in Holland which I can’t find the cost of but New Orleans built an 800 ft one for around $15 million in today’s costs. It’s more of a bridge for the runway than an actual tunnel. The tunnel is not included in the project elevate but my whole point was AFTER that stuff is completed, this seems like the next big projects to tackle 

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On 3/3/2020 at 2:45 PM, mgreven said:

I don't fly often but last Friday night at 6pm you could hardly walk through concourse A.  I was shocked. Good thing they are expanding it. Thankfully, security was speedy!

Hate to be a Debbie Downer, after all this is a forum where we can escape from the usual news of the day, but I think we are going to start seeing a significant downturn in passengers soon because of the concern about the coronavirus.  I know my wife and I are delaying vacation plans until we see how this plays out.  Of course, I’m old and that’s a known risk factor for catching and dying of just about anything.  

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7 hours ago, walker said:

Hate to be a Debbie Downer, after all this is a forum where we can escape from the usual news of the day, but I think we are going to start seeing a significant downturn in passengers soon because of the concern about the coronavirus.  I know my wife and I are delaying vacation plans until we see how this plays out.  Of course, I’m old and that’s a known risk factor for catching and dying of just about anything.  

I don't think it's going  to last long at all.  There's a scare of a new virus every 2-4 years.  This will die down soon enough and while it will effect some traveling it's not going to be big enough to slow down any plans for improvements here at GRR. 

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14 hours ago, Floyd_Z said:

Anyone know where GR ranks currently (2020) in the US for passenger traffic?  Are we now in the top 50?  I'm having difficulty finding up to date stats.  304k x 12 would put us at around 3.65M annually, but I know the numbers can fluctuate seasonally..

Likewise, I found stats for 2018.  Perhaps, based on our growth we could guestimate GR Ford could be anywhere from #51-#55 after another record year. 

image.png.baad687957a35a9ee88b581f201ed4eb.png

https://www.bts.gov/content/passengers-boarded-top-50-us-airports

7 hours ago, walker said:

Hate to be a Debbie Downer, after all this is a forum where we can escape from the usual news of the day, but I think we are going to start seeing a significant downturn in passengers soon because of the concern about the coronavirus.  I know my wife and I are delaying vacation plans until we see how this plays out.  Of course, I’m old and that’s a known risk factor for catching and dying of just about anything.  

I've read that flights internationally, especially to Asia are continuing to be evaluated and reduced. I could see this spreading to international travel travel to Europe as well.  Like walker mentioned, I am curious to see what affect this may have on GRR as its not really utilized for international travel. I could be wrong, but from my experience, folks generally go to Chicago/Detroit and head out internationally. My guess is GRR may be insulated a bit and we see growth slow down? 

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3 minutes ago, egrguy said:

Likewise, I found stats for 2018.  Perhaps, based on our growth we could guestimate GR Ford could be anywhere from #51-#55 after another record year. 

image.png.baad687957a35a9ee88b581f201ed4eb.png

https://www.bts.gov/content/passengers-boarded-top-50-us-airports

I've read that flights internationally, especially to Asia are continuing to be evaluated and reduced. I could see this spreading to international travel travel to Europe as well.  Like walker mentioned, I am curious to see what affect this may have on GRR as its not really utilized for international travel. I could be wrong, but from my experience, folks generally go to Chicago/Detroit and head out internationally. My guess is GRR may be insulated a bit and we see growth slow down? 

I think that is enplaned, not total passengers. I would think that GRR is somewhere in the upper 60's in rearguards to total passenger traffic. The Chart below is from 2017 when GRR was a little over 2.8 Million but that does not reflect growth at other US airports.

 

 

GRR.PNG.7eb08aee163cb6b21d0621d62764f7b2.PNG

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