EWING, N.J.—Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes and other dignitaries celebrated the grand opening of the renovated terminal at Trenton-Mercer Airport with a ribbon-cutting ceremony today.
Frontier Airlines, the airport’s only commercial carrier, will resume operations on Nov. 8, two months after temporarily suspending service while the County undertook a federally required safety project on the airport’s main runway. The County used that runway construction period to renovate the airport’s 40-year-old terminal, as well as the parking areas.
“The enhancements we’ve made during the past couple of months – improved baggage service; a gate area featuring more seating, restrooms and refreshments; and additional parking with better traffic circulation – were necessary and will result in a more efficient and a more enjoyable traveling experience,” Hughes said. “Frankly, this terminal has undergone a complete transformation and now has the amenities that travelers desire.”
Hughes was joined at the ribbon-cutting by James Simpson, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation; Ewing Mayor Bert Steinmann; and Daniel Shurz, Frontier senior vice president commercial. Also in attendance were County Freeholders John Cimino, Andrew Koontz, Ann Cannon, Anthony Carabelli and Pasquale “Pat” Colavita.
Shurz announced at today’s ceremony that Frontier, which currently offers nonstop service to nine locations from Trenton-Mercer Airport, will add three more destinations early next year, bringing the total to 14. The airline will commence service to Cleveland, Ohio, on Feb. 13; Nashville, Tenn., on April 29; and Indianapolis, Ind., on April 30. Frontier recently announced that it also will add Charlotte, N.C., and Cincinnati, Ohio, to its lineup beginning in February.
By the end of April, Frontier will be offering 55 weekly flights from Trenton-Mercer Airport, Shurz said.
“We’re hoping to be back with more good news as people discover the wonderful convenience of this airport,” he said.
Hughes called these airport enhancements “an enormous step in a series of steps we will take toward the redevelopment of the airport area as a whole.” The County has been working with Ewing Township, where the airport is located, to develop long-term plans for the area, which includes the former General Motors and Naval Air Warfare Center sites.
Steinmann referred to the town center and transit hub the township plans to build under its Parkway Avenue Redevelopment Plan. “But it’s not just about Ewing Township,” he said. “This airport and the community – the transit village -- we are building will serve the area regionally.”
“I can’t tell you how important this airport is for our region,” said Simpson, who noted that the State Department of Transportation has provided more than $6 million for Trenton-Mercer Airport improvements in the past five years.
The airport improvements undertaken and completed during the past two months include:
n Construction of Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) beds at the ends of the main runway. The beds consist of lightweight, crushable concrete blocks designed to entrap an aircraft that has overrun the runway, with little or no damage to the aircraft and no major injuries to passengers, crew or bystanders. Cost of the final EMAS project is about $16 million, with 90 percent coming from the FAA and 5 percent from the state DOT. EMAS beds were constructed at the ends of the airport’s shorter runway in 2012.
n Terminal renovations including installation of a new, more passenger-friendly baggage-claim facility; creation of a larger passenger waiting area; construction of restrooms beyond the security checkpoint; and the availability of food and beverages in the secured area. Cost of the terminal renovations is approximately $875,000. The county will ultimately use the passenger facility charge, which is on all airline tickets, to finance the terminal project.
n Parking renovations including the creation of additional public parking spaces within walking distance of the terminal; construction of a new surface lot to accommodate employees, rental cars and a cell-phone waiting area for motorists who are picking up passengers; and the transformation of the two public parking lots near the terminal into gated, paid lots, with a daily parking rate of $8 and an hourly rate of $2. Cost of the parking renovations is approximately $3.5 million, which includes the additional parking, revenue system and drainage work. The parking improvements will ultimately be paid for through parking fees.
The construction work was performed by CJ Hesse Inc., Atlantic Highlands; USA General Contractors Corp., Elizabeth; and Waters and Bugbee General Contractors, Hamilton.
Shurz said Frontier is celebrating its new flights from Trenton-Mercer to Cleveland, Indianapolis and Nashville with special low-price ticket deals. Information is available at www.flyfrontier.com.