Eastern Iowa Airport Planning to Buy 5 New Jet Bridges

By George C. Ford, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Every month, thousands of travelers using The Eastern Iowa Airport walk through jet bridges to enter or leave the community.

Five of the airport's six jet bridges need to be replaced after 29 years of service. The Cedar Rapids Airport Commission was planning to purchase a new jet bridge and have the existing units refurbished in subsequent years.

On Monday, Airport Operations Director Sara Freese told the commission that the Federal Aviation Administration will not approve replacing the jet bridges with refurbished units.

"The FAA will only approve paying for new jet bridges," Freese said. "During the design process, we determined that simultaneous replacement of the five bridges was financially possible."

Freese said buying all the jet bridges from a single supplier will yield a number of benefits.

"This will allow us to keep less replacement parts in inventory and standardize training for our maintenance staff," Freese said. "In terms of energy efficiency, we will be switching from DC motors to AC motors and using preconditioned air from the terminal to heat and cool the aircraft cabins.

"That will save the airlines using their jet fuel to heat and cool planes at the gate."

The commission approved amending a contract with Foth Infrastructure and Environment of Cedar Rapids to include design and bidding phase service for the replacement of all five jet bridges.

"Our plan is to take delivery of two jet bridges this fiscal year and stagger delivery of the other three jet bridges in the next fiscal year," Freese said. "We expect to use passenger facility charge revenue to pay 100 percent of the cost for the new jet bridges."

The passenger facility charge is collected as part of the ticket price for air travel at the nation's airports. The estimated cost for the five new jet bridges is $3.2 million.

Freese said an Oct. 28 public hearing has been scheduled for the jet bridge purchase plans and specifications. She said bids will likely be due in late November, with the commission awarding a contract at its combined November-December meeting in early December.
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