Traffic Growth Spurs Airside Expansion at Ottawa Int'l

Rebecca Douglas
Published in: 

Ottawa International

After Ottawa International opened its $310 million Passenger Terminal Building in October 2003, the Airport Authority had little time to relish its accomplishment before significant traffic growth triggered another expansion. Every year, passenger loads kept exceeding the previous record-breaking total. (See graph on page 20.) More room was needed, inside and out.

Facts & Figures

Project: Rampside Improvements

Location: Ottawa International Airport

Size: 12 gates, 8 bridges, 392,880 sq. ft. of apron

Cost: $95 million (includes 160,000 sq. ft. of interior holdroom and service space)

Project Team

Architecture/Design: McFarlane Green Biggar

Engineering: J.L. Richards

Construction Contractor: Pomerleau Inc.

Exterior Civil Contractor: R.W. Tomlinson

Civil Subcontractors: Gradex & O'Leary's Ltd.

Demolition: Panzini Demolition

Civil Design Consultant: Ainley Group

Ramp Design Consultant: Earthtech

Demolition Consultant: DST Consulting Engineers

Bridge Provider: ThyssenKrupp

A $95 million effort to add more gates and expand holdroom space consequently broke ground in August 2006. It ended last December - on time and on budget, notes Krista Kealey, vice president, Communications & Public Affairs for the Ottawa International Airport Authority.

More than 160,000 square feet of domestic and international holdroom space was built, 12 new gates were installed and eight boarding bridges were purchased. Four aircraft stands, predominantly for use with Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s, were also added adjacent to the terminal.

The new wing extends from the south end of the Passenger Terminal Building, directly behind the original terminal building that was largely decommissioned in 2003 and 2004. Because the old terminal occupied the spot where the new west side apron and ramp would be, construction of the new two-story wing was tackled in two stages, explains vice president of infrastructure and technology Ian Bell. The first stage, which opened in March 2008, included all gates on the east side of the building. After it opened, remaining demolition work on the old terminal was completed along with civil works associated with surface preparation, which paved the way for the second stage to wrap up in December.

Design of the new apron and associated taxiways was completed in 2006; and in early 2007, crews converted former parking space into a new apron. "We paved the east apron area first in order to open five gates early," notes Clem Poupart, civil projects manager. In total, roughly 36,500 square meters (about 392,880 square feet) was paved with new concrete.

Spikes in passenger volume made it necessary to keep part of the old terminal in use. "We decommissioned as much as possible, but we still needed some of it," explains Kealey. "It was important to have access to enough gates to facilitate overflow, but it required some creativity to keep only part of the building operational."

Approximately 70% of the old terminal building was demolished to facilitate opening the new east gates, notes Bell, and new gas lines and electricity service was established to keep the rest running.

"We began demolition on the ground side and left an island in the middle," recalls Bell. "So we escorted the construction workers across the apron to their worksite."

Accustomed to the Cold

At many airports, cold winter weather is often made the scapegoat for troublesome and costly passenger delays. At Ottawa International, it's more of a given that staff plan for matter-of-factly on the front end.

Four of the airport's new boarding bridges, for instance, were significantly augmented for cold weather operation.

ThyssenKrupp outfitted its standard low level bridge, also known as the Low Rider, with baseboard heaters, cab floor deicers, ice scrapers, winterization sealing, hydraulic reservoir heaters and a cab heating system to ensure comfort for both airline passengers and airport staff. The bridge also includes a software package that feeds troubleshooting and diagnostic information to maintenance personnel.

The deicing facility that services the new extension and the rest of the airport won an Environmental Achievement Award from the Airport Council International - North America in 2005. Its biotreatment system captures glycol-impacted storm water and runs it through a network of perforated pipes for underground treatment. Ideal indigenous soil and bacterial enzymes help prevent the release of glycol into the neighboring Rideau River, which is an affluent of the Ottawa River, itself a tributary of the St. Laurence River.

"We've had zero exceedances of glycol limits since 2005," reports Kealey.

There's even an upside to Ottawa's cold weather. It has actually fed the traffic increases that prompted the airport's most recent expansion. "We've benefited from growth on the international side to 'sunshine destinations,' " explains Kealey. "During particularly cold winters, people want to escape and fly to someplace warm."

Green Good Will

Building on previous environmental efforts, the pavement that was torn up to make room for the new wing was ground up and used for fill. In addition, more than 93% of the materials from the old terminal were recycled. "We recycled everything from rebar and steel to the hydraulic fluid in the elevators," notes Kealey. "It meant the project took a little longer, but it was worth it."

The airport took the effort one step further and facilitated the reuse of many items. Fixtures and faucets were donated to non-profit organizations; holdroom seating was given a second life at a local hospital; and stainless-steel countertops from concession providers are now in use at kitchens serving the underprivileged.

Inside the new wing, British Columbian fir timbers recovered from two World War II hangars were used for trim and soffits in retail spaces. "We made recycling a priority throughout the project," says Kealey, "but reclaiming the timbers was also a way to pay tribute to our military history."

Into the Future

With its recent $95 million expansion trailing completion of the new Passenger Terminal Building by just a few years, Ottawa International is not likely to be accused of overbuilding.

"Our forecasts for passenger growth are fairly conservative," notes Kealey. "This year notwithstanding, we've had spikes for the last five to ten years. We knew we'd need more capacity; the growth just came sooner than we anticipated. The current difficulties in the industry haven't hit us as hard as they've hit some of the smaller airports."

With the recent expansion increasing the airport's capacity to 5 million annual passengers, Authority officials don't foresee another expansion for at least 15 years.


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