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The Cedar Rapids Airport Commission voted Dec. 19 to award a contract for the fourth phase of the Eastern Iowa Airport’s modernization project, approving a bid nearly $6 million below the project’s original estimated cost. The commission voted unanimously on a resolution awarding the project to Rinderknecht Construction of Cedar Rapids. Their bid of just under $59.5 million was well under the engineer’s probable cost estimate of just under $65.3 million, Eastern Iowa Airport operations director Todd Gibbs told the commission Dec. 19. Eastern Iowa Airport director Marty Lenss said a number of factors worked in the airport’s favor to lower the modernization project’s bid cost. “We are beginning to see some construction pricing come down,” Mr. Lenss said. “I would also compliment our design team of Foth Engineering and Mead & Hunt in preparing the bid specs and working the construction estimating process on the front end.” Plans and specifications for the project were approved by the commission in November. The costliest and most extensive of the modernization project’s phases, the fourth and final phase will be highlighted by an extensive remodeling and 30,000-square-foot expansion of the airport’s passenger concourse and the addition of four new jetways. The expansion will begin at Gate 9, at the end of the current concourse, and turn to the west, Mr. Lenss said. One of the primary highlights of the expanded concourse will be an elevated outdoor patio. The airport currently provides a small post-security patio near Gate 1, Mr. Lenss said, but this patio, also located post-security, will be larger and strategically positioned, with various seating options, greenery, a louvered pergola roof and a liquor license for outdoor service. Other portions of the project will include the addition of a new restaurant on the airport’s concourse and a remodeling of the existing Cedar Ridge restaurant. All gates from Gate 4 to the end of the current concourse will be extensively remodeled, with new seating, more natural daylighting, and a new heating and cooling system with energy provided exclusively through a new geothermal field and additional photovoltaic solar energy panels on the concourse roof. The Phase 4 project will wrap up an extensive revisioning and freshening of nearly every section of the airport’s facilities, a project in the works since 2015. The project is being funded primarily through two grants – a $28.35 million grant awarded in June through the American Rescue Plan Act’s Iowa Commercial Aviation Infrastructure Fund (ICAIF) and another $20.4 million grant awarded in July from ARPA funds. The majority of the remaining balance will be funded through a combination of passenger facility charges, currently set at $4.50 per ticket, and airport reserves. Construction on the last phase of airport modernization is slated to begin in the spring of 2023 and completed by the spring of 2025, Mr. Lenss said.