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Grand Rapids Airport (GRR) News and Developments


joeDowntown

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1 hour ago, GR_Urbanist said:

The video is very beautiful! 

 

I just hope there are some plans to get some sort of airport to DT transportation option back into service. It's always that one thing that bugs me about our airport. Having all of these people arrive in that wonderful space, and the only way into the city is either a car or a loooooooooong walk through Kentwood. 

https://www.gvmc.org/airport-access-study

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11 hours ago, walker said:

I can't remember if anyone has posted the GRR concourse vision video that is on their website so I'll do it.

Pretty impressive.  It's even got Lake Michigan and sand dunes and fall colors.  The crowd of happy people are all well groomed and fit and diverse and not anxious or in a hurry, and there  are no babies crying, or babies at all.  There's only a couple of children and they are well behaved and are just quietly looking out the window.

There's what appears to be a couple of seconds of walking through what must be the old concourse portion with its remodeled but still low  ceilings then you hit the new spacious high-ceiling addition.

Slide down just a little for the video:

GRR: concourse - a vision and a journey.
 

        

They play that on a loop at the airport. It's interesting to watch it now on my computer though. 

16 hours ago, GR8scott said:

Yes you cant really tell what they are planning with the existing concourse, it would be very odd if they left it as is and you walk through the old part to get to the nice open new part without remodeling, maybe raising the roof with some skylights or some pushout areas. 

Looks like you're still going to go through the old lower ceiling part. There is a large atrium at the transition point though. 

1114286055_concoursetransition2.thumb.jpg.fbfca4a16beb7685532a8856bb4e86fe.jpg

 

347805989_concoursetransition.thumb.jpg.afd1c610507862436610ed60758626d6.jpg

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45 minutes ago, cstonesparty said:

Interesting if you click through that interactive map. They show a rail station as part of Cascade Twp's master plan, just North of the airport.

They also show where the new control tower is going, out by the FedEx hangar. I was wondering where they were planning that. 

794482829_airportrailstation.thumb.jpg.afcb4bd6d30e54ca9931ea9e2032772c.jpg

 

155607271_airtraffictower.thumb.jpg.ff4ac6744439c9e30eaa8e059ab39e5c.jpg

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Ok I see the old/new concourse transition, I would hope they "upgrade" the existing part enough to blend in, it seems it would be relatively easy to put in more skylight features to open it up so its not like you are walking through a tunnel to get to the much larger new part at the end. 

 

The survey site is really interesting especially the rail mentions. Too bad the survey already closed as I mentioned here before, a direct access to the 36th street exit seems like a  no-brainer to me. Its like the airport has its back turned to the main freeways and doing so would take thousands of cars a day off 28th and patterson and shave at least 5 min for for each vehicle headed to downtown. Sure there is a cost to tunnel under the smaller non-commercial runway but Holland's airport did it on their only runway and for a road that probably has much less traffic than this would. 

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5 minutes ago, GR8scott said:

Ok I see the old/new concourse transition, I would hope they "upgrade" the existing part enough to blend in, it seems it would be relatively easy to put in more skylight features to open it up so its not like you are walking through a tunnel to get to the much larger new part at the end. 

 

The survey site is really interesting especially the rail mentions. Too bad the survey already closed as I mentioned here before, a direct access to the 36th street exit seems like a  no-brainer to me. Its like the airport has its back turned to the main freeways and doing so would take thousands of cars a day off 28th and patterson and shave at least 5 min for for each vehicle headed to downtown. Sure there is a cost to tunnel under the smaller non-commercial runway but Holland's airport did it on their only runway and for a road that probably has much less traffic than this would. 

I know this has been discussed a lot, but it would be nice.  I think that was one of the reasons for the study..  It seems like the Airport Authority has enough cash.  Maybe they could get MDOT to pay for a portion or use some of those magical infrastructure funds.  Tunnels are expensive.  Even Holland's airport has direct highway access.

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1 hour ago, GR8scott said:

Ok I see the old/new concourse transition, I would hope they "upgrade" the existing part enough to blend in, it seems it would be relatively easy to put in more skylight features to open it up so its not like you are walking through a tunnel to get to the much larger new part at the end. 

 

The survey site is really interesting especially the rail mentions. Too bad the survey already closed as I mentioned here before, a direct access to the 36th street exit seems like a  no-brainer to me. Its like the airport has its back turned to the main freeways and doing so would take thousands of cars a day off 28th and patterson and shave at least 5 min for for each vehicle headed to downtown. Sure there is a cost to tunnel under the smaller non-commercial runway but Holland's airport did it on their only runway and for a road that probably has much less traffic than this would. 

Could not agree more on the tunnel concept.  Direct connection to 96 seems so obvious…

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I don't understand why any road improvements there would be needed. I've never encountered any appreciable amount of traffic out there. Would a five-minute savings in travel time be appreciated? Sure. But it's not like we have any choke points that we need to eliminate.

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5 hours ago, organsnyder said:

I don't understand why any road improvements there would be needed. I've never encountered any appreciable amount of traffic out there. Would a five-minute savings in travel time be appreciated? Sure. But it's not like we have any choke points that we need to eliminate.

I agree. What would the cost of a tunnel be. And to shave 5 minutes off the commute? It seems absurd to me unless we start seeing massive traffic tie ups around the airport. If I were to build a list of 20 needs to make GRR better, tunnel would be #21. 

Joe

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2 hours ago, cstonesparty said:

I can think of only a couple airports I’ve flown through that were not connected to a highway.  It feels small-town and un-serious.  If we’re content to be like Sioux Falls, then I guess that’s that…

LAX and San Diego don’t directly connect to freeways.

 Not that anyone should model their airport after the horror that is LAX :)

I wouldn’t mind a direct connection to I-96, I just don’t think it’s worth the cost of tunneling over to it. It’s already pretty easy to get to GRR from the freeway.

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19 hours ago, cstonesparty said:

I can think of only a couple airports I’ve flown through that were not connected to a highway.  It feels small-town and un-serious.  If we’re content to be like Sioux Falls, then I guess that’s that…

We flew into Albuquerque last summer and their airport didn't connect to a highway. It was strangely a huge airport but basically deserted. It used to be a hub at one time but no longer is. It was quieter than GRR (that day anyway).

https://www.google.com/search?q=albuquerque+airport&rlz=1C1ZKTG_enUS782US782&sxsrf=ALiCzsZiVdKyqqf_Y8s1CHXlvOaporYyAw:1651495493682&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjU0_6R7MD3AhVSFzQIHVz3A1MQ_AUoA3oECAEQBQ&biw=1707&bih=802&dpr=1.13

I agree that a tunnel to I-96 would give it a bigger city feel but at the cost, does it make financial sense. 

I wonder how many people flying into GRR from other places are going downtown vs going to another destination (to visit family or friends). I have a feeling it's the latter. Our conventions are mostly regional and most people probably drive here.

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On 4/30/2022 at 2:34 PM, GR8scott said:

Ok I see the old/new concourse transition, I would hope they "upgrade" the existing part enough to blend in, it seems it would be relatively easy to put in more skylight features to open it up so its not like you are walking through a tunnel to get to the much larger new part at the end. 

 

The survey site is really interesting especially the rail mentions. Too bad the survey already closed as I mentioned here before, a direct access to the 36th street exit seems like a  no-brainer to me. Its like the airport has its back turned to the main freeways and doing so would take thousands of cars a day off 28th and patterson and shave at least 5 min for for each vehicle headed to downtown. Sure there is a cost to tunnel under the smaller non-commercial runway but Holland's airport did it on their only runway and for a road that probably has much less traffic than this would. 

Maybe they will, not sure. The larger "new part" at the end will actually be more than just at the end. The expansion is more than doubling the size of concourse A. The new atrium looks like it will be just after the first couple of gates. 

 

765284491_airportexpansion.thumb.jpg.9e4e2f096e078d6bf7e8e9a068c0548e.jpg

 

2145287037_airportexpansion2.thumb.jpg.d165e538fd780882103c9aeb7f9834cb.jpg

 

 

I think that's part of the answer to your question. It looks like the new atrium will be where the current gate A5 is.

 

873385269_GRRairport.thumb.jpg.2a6a959ea727d3801f83389f52152408.jpg

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2 hours ago, GRDadof3 said:

I agree that a tunnel to I-96 would give it a bigger city feel but at the cost, does it make financial sense. 

I wonder how many people flying into GRR from other places are going downtown vs going to another destination (to visit family or friends). I have a feeling it's the latter. Our conventions are mostly regional and most people probably drive here.

I bet a tunnel and the reconfiguration existing roads / access points needed would cost $50-100M. So is it really worth it because it's "neat", "everyone else has one", and that it would shave 5 minutes off the commute. 

I'd much rather see the airport use money to get more direct routes (existing carriers and bringing new ones to GRR), increase capacity, and get aggressive about international routes.

Joe

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I'm curious if anyone knows how much further the airport can be expanded runway wise?  The private runway on the north could certainly be upgraded and they could probably add another north-south runway to the east.  Is there some kind of formula for needed runways based on flights per day?  I'm just wondering if there is a date that the space will be obsolete.  Is there a projected obsoletion date?  Maybe there isn't?  I suppose if it ever came down to it they could use eminent domain.  It seems like 96 and M6 would limit expansion.  When they were building it in the 60's did they anticipate GR metro would grow at the rate it has?

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I'm doubtful runway expansion is necessary in the near future as most similar sized airports seem to only have 2 runways and at 10000ft the main runway at GRR is longer than most. It appears theres plenty of room to expand the north south runway a little bit towards M6 if the lighting can stretch across it and a lot of room for the north runway. The master plans for that look like it could be replaced with a newer larger one even more to the north. Thats where the mentions of a tunnel would go.  Not that its urgent but I would at least like to see them future proof and plan for it ahead of time especially if they end up rebuilding it anyway. Speaking of that,  Im going to disagree with the anti-tunnel people :tw_lol: Not just because it would be "neat" or because other places have one. As the airport stated, they aim to be a good first impression to visitors and are often the last impression for them leaving, shaving off a good 5 min and several turns it takes to get into the airport would be a better experience. If you are trying to find it for the first time, you may get lost. If you are an environmentalist it would save tens of thousands of miles per day on the roads. If you ever driven on 28th you may be used to the traffic but it would be reduced and that would be a good thing for 28th. And sure cost is a factor but somehow the airport was able to do the other upgrades with no local tax dollars, this could also be federal, state, grants bonds and user fees 

Since theres already 2 commercial runways there wouldnt be much of an inconvenience to construct there.  Detroit, Columbus, I think Milwaukee are just a few examples that I know of that have tunnels that allow for direct freeway connection. LAX does have direct connection, multiple ones and a tunnel under a runway to do so. San Diego is probably the only example of a larger airport not to have a direct connection and even that connection is A) slated to be up graded when they build a new terminal B) still better than GRR because you exit the freeway and make 1 turn to the airport entrances, GRR is 3 turns. Beside California and many other things are like a unique blast from the past. Omaha is probably the only good example near an interstate that does not connect, it would require a bridge over a major river and into another state. I compare against slightly larger more peer non-hub markets that GRR would want to emulate, think Providence, Hartford, Rochester, Raleigh, Louisville, Richmond, Birmingham, Tulsa, OKC, Spokane, Boise, Columbus, Little Rock, Albuquerque (I would consider direct access with a spur to i25) ect. 

Maybe the survey results would show a need for it although if Im reading the map correctly, its labeled as "previously considered" and interestingly also lists a "planned" gateway feature there as well as the mentioned rail station on the north side and a "planed" exit at M6 and 48th 

Anywho this article from Ozarks? has some good tidbits of details on the terminal expansion. https://www.ky3.com/prnewswire/2022/04/28/ford-international-airport-celebrates-beam-raising-110-million-expansion-concourse/

What we know for sure is more gates and the customs will allow for more flights, possibly more destinations and even airlines that the fast growth should demand. The new control tower will allow for even more airport expansion and with all of that will equal more traffic into and out of the airport which it needs to accommodate for. 

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I'm agnostic on a tunnel to 36th Street, but it is clear that the airport is striving for a "big city" arrivals feel. Both the canopy over the drop off area and the "ramp" from 44th to Patterson were pretty clearly built with that in mind.

I generally take 44th to the Beltline when I pick up guests, because that is a better gateway than Patterson, even if going downtown.

Oh, and on an unrelated note, DTW has direct freeway access (to I-94) without a tunnel. It built a tunnel and a bunch of flyover ramps to connect to a surface street (Eureka Road) and for improved, but indirect, access to southbound I-275.

 

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6 hours ago, Khorasaurus1 said:

I'm agnostic on a tunnel to 36th Street, but it is clear that the airport is striving for a "big city" arrivals feel. Both the canopy over the drop off area and the "ramp" from 44th to Patterson were pretty clearly built with that in mind.

I generally take 44th to the Beltline when I pick up guests, because that is a better gateway than Patterson, even if going downtown.

Oh, and on an unrelated note, DTW has direct freeway access (to I-94) without a tunnel. It built a tunnel and a bunch of flyover ramps to connect to a surface street (Eureka Road) and for improved, but indirect, access to southbound I-275.

 

I thought you had to go through a tunnel to get to Delta terminal from i94 at DTW? Never the less not urgent for GRR but I would like to see it incorporated into master plan and accounted for as they expand so its not out of the question mid/long term if/when funding becomes available. Speaking of im sure theres a possibility to tap into federal infrastructure funding as its been one of the fastest growing airports in the country and terminal expansion will help sustain passenger growth. 

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13 minutes ago, GR8scott said:

I thought you had to go through a tunnel to get to Delta terminal from i94 at DTW? Never the less not urgent for GRR but I would like to see it incorporated into master plan and accounted for as they expand so its not out of the question mid/long term if/when funding becomes available. Speaking of im sure theres a possibility to tap into federal infrastructure funding as its been one of the fastest growing airports in the country and terminal expansion will help sustain passenger growth. 

Oh yeah, you're right. There is a tunnel north of the McNamara terminal as well as south. You can get to the Evans terminal from 94 without going through a tunnel, though. 

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OK, maybe not a tunnel from 96, but how about a tunnel from GRR to downtown, except it's a hyperloop.  It would only take a minute and a half!

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Last thing about the airport and then I'll probably shut up for a while unless theres some new news...but there was mention of an "executive lounge" in the upper floor of the new concourse addition which is where all 3 of the legacy airlines will be located once complete, the low cost carriers would all be in B concourse. I highly doubt that any one of the legacy carriers would build their own exclusive lounge at GRR, its more likely a company like "the club" https://theclubairportlounges.com/ which is open to the public for $40 and complimentary to some programs like priority pass. Same concept as the exclusive airline lounges but in my experience (with priority pass) not quite on par (with my experiences in Delta and United lounges), still would be nice to have that option. They have several midsized non-hub airports like Charleston, Buffalo and Pittsburg and generally larger markets than GRR.  

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4 hours ago, GR8scott said:

Last thing about the airport and then I'll probably shut up for a while unless theres some new news...but there was mention of an "executive lounge" in the upper floor of the new concourse addition which is where all 3 of the legacy airlines will be located once complete, the low cost carriers would all be in B concourse. I highly doubt that any one of the legacy carriers would build their own exclusive lounge at GRR, its more likely a company like "the club" https://theclubairportlounges.com/ which is open to the public for $40 and complimentary to some programs like priority pass. Same concept as the exclusive airline lounges but in my experience (with priority pass) not quite on par (with my experiences in Delta and United lounges), still would be nice to have that option. They have several midsized non-hub airports like Charleston, Buffalo and Pittsburg and generally larger markets than GRR.  

Yeah I know at least united it's only major cities.  The United lounges in Chicago and Tokyo are really nice.  I'm curious, do their complimentary drinks include alcohol?  Because that would be worth it alone.

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3 hours ago, Floyd_Z said:

Yeah I know at least united it's only major cities.  The United lounges in Chicago and Tokyo are really nice.  I'm curious, do their complimentary drinks include alcohol?  Because that would be worth it alone.

I hung out at the one in Tokyo about a decade ago. Coolest thing in the lounge was frosted mug beer tap “robot” that would put the perfect head on the beer. Classic Japanese automation at work. :)

Joe

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On 5/2/2022 at 9:18 PM, GR8scott said:

LAX does have direct connection, multiple ones and a tunnel under a runway to do so.

I'm sorry to keep beating this horse but this is just not a true statement.  You may have a different definition of "direct connection," but I would define it as a direct limited-access road from the expressway to the airport entrance without interaction with a surface street & local traffic - I mean, isn't that what you're pining for at GRR?  Well, that does not exist at LAX.  The "tunnel" you're talking about is CA-1/Sepulveda Blvd, which is a major surface road.  It's over a 1/2 mile from the entrance to the airport, which is not my idea of a direct connection. Plus it's backed up with local traffic between 7:00am and 9:00pm, so unless you're going in outside those hours, you're better off using alternate exits.  And if you're coming in from the north (like I have to) you're not even using the 105 anyway.  The closest exit from the 405 puts you on La Cienaga Blvd, which is over a mile from the airport entrance.

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I just came from the airport  last night and instead of a tunnel, how about the City of Kentwood fix Patterson so it isn't a complete piece of shit. Wow it's gotten bad.  "Welcome to BANG!! Grand BANG!! Rapids BANG!!!

But East Paris is horrible now too so maybe it's all of Kentwood's roads. 

On a sidenote, I'm really surprised that the airport hasn't put up full wall renderings of what the expansion will look and feel like, at the end of the current concourse. All they have are small windows to look out with "Don't look directly at arc welders" signs on them, lol. 

Every other airport I've been to recently that is expanding has all kinds of full color marketing pieces all over the construction walls. 

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