Nebraska Lt. Gov. Mike Foley snapped close-up shots of every piece of artwork in Grand Island’s new passenger terminal at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport Tuesday.
“This is very impressive,” the state’s second-in-command said. “There’s a real wow factor.”
Airport Executive Director Mike Olson gave Foley a personal tour Tuesday during the airport’s annual appreciation soup supper — the last soup supper to be held in the current terminal built in 1954.
The new $14 million terminal is scheduled to open to the public March 23.
Olson told Foley the terminal was built with sustainability in mind. It has geothermal heating and cooling. There are 130 wells dug 40 feet deep under the terminal. Six pumps are in place, but only one or two of those pumps are needed at any given time to keep the terminal at a comfortable temperature.
Sawtooth ceilings let in natural light, as do solar tubes in the terminal’s security scanning area.
Olson pointed out the terrazzo flooring that depicts the Platte River. Not only does it add local culture, but it serves as wayfinding to guide passengers from ticketing to security screening and from exit gates to baggage claim.
But the many other facets of local culture in the terminal really captured Foley’s eye.
Immediately after walking into the new terminal, he pulled his cellphone from his pocket and snapped photos of a crane mural by Grand Island photographer Rick Rasmussen. He did the same with murals by Hastings photographer Jorn Olsen.
“Quite a masterpiece,” Foley said.
The new terminal has several firsts for Grand Island, Olson said. There’s a baggage belt behind the ticket counters and a first-ever X-ray screening machine that will check 110 bags an hour.
At the terminal entrance, there’s a covered canopy for passenger drop off. At the terminal exit, there’s a jet bridge to load passengers while being covered. Both were important to Olson to keep passengers comfortable from rain, snow and wind.
“There’s a lot of weather in Nebraska,” Foley said.
The new terminal also has other “creature comforts,” Olson said. Those include ample plug-ins to charge cellphones in the waiting areas, lots of data ports, a stand-up table for waiting passengers to work at or lean on for conversing, water bottle filling stations and a restaurant that serves both the secure and public sides of the terminal.
Olson explained that over the past 10 years, Grand Island’s air passenger numbers have grown from 7,500 to 65,000 a year.
Grand Island is a regional hub for medical, retail and jobs, he said.
“This is not a field of dreams — it’s totally demand driven,” Olson said of the new terminal, which he forecast to last 30-plus years.
“It’s very attractive, well done,” Foley said.
As the two stood outside the new terminal, they watched a new private jet owned by Hornady Manufacturing land on the runway.
Foley said he sees the new terminal as being an excellent front door for Grand Island residents, visitors and businesses.