Nearly $42 million requested for new international terminal at Mitchell airport

Request is preliminary and could change during planning process

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The Milwaukee County Department of Transportation submitted a preliminary budget request seeking nearly $42 million from the county to build a new international terminal at General Mitchell International Airport.

The interior of General Mitchell International Airport.
The interior of General Mitchell International Airport.

The county DOT asked for more than $4.5 million for the project in 2017 and $37.37 million in 2018 beside a line item titled “GMIA International Terminal Redevelopment” in a document reviewed by the County Board’s Capital Improvements Committee on July 13.

Airport officials announced on July 15 two airlines — United Airlines and Air Canada — would move operations from Concourse E, the airport’s southern-most terminal, to Concourse C, the northern-most terminal, to make room for a future international terminal.

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The current international arrivals terminal is detached from the rest of the terminal complex in a separate building.

Airport director Izzy Bonilla said in an interview last week the airport needed a new international terminal to accommodate an anticipated increase in passenger traffic.

General Mitchell International Airport Director Izzy Bonilla.
General Mitchell International Airport Director Izzy Bonilla.

“We’re also looking at and being courted by other international carriers that would require better facilities than the ones that we have today,” Bonilla said on July 15. “So we’re looking at a long-range planning process. These things don’t spring up overnight. It takes about two years to get everything up and running. So we’re trying to get the ball rolling at this time to see if we can get this building done in 2018 — the end of 2018 or so — to meet what we call standards in international travel. They’re barely being met with the building we have today.”

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The nearly $42 million requested for the project by the county DOT is a preliminary estimate and may be subject to change.

A note included in the request says county staff is still in the process of verifying project requests with departments and “some project requests may be adjusted in future reports to reflect updated information.”

A firm budget for the construction project has not been established. Bonilla said several factors will influence the overall cost of the project, including the size and specifications of the terminal and whether it will be built into existing facilities or from scratch.

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