Lafayette’s planned $90 million air passenger terminal got a boost in the recently ended legislative session with $13.5 million allocated for the project in Louisiana’s construction budget.
The money, which is part of the state’s capital outlay budget, will be added to proceeds from a Lafayette Parish voter-approved 1-cent sales tax that is expected to bring in $30 million to $35 million. The tax, approved overwhelmingly late last year, runs from April 1 until Nov. 30 and is dedicated to funding the terminal.
Airport Commissioner Paul Segura joined other commissioners and Acadiana legislators Friday at the airport to announce Louisiana’s contribution to the project. Planners of the proposed terminal envision five passenger gates with room to add two more, an expanded parking lot and other enhancements. Currently, the airport features three passenger gates.
Segura on Friday noted the state contribution came out of a legislative session that was short on money.
“At a time when state revenues have decreased, we recognize the challenge our representatives faced when they requested funds to help build a new terminal project for Acadiana,” Segura said.
Joining commissioners Friday were state Reps. Joel Robideaux, Stewart Bishop, Terry Landry and Vincent Pierre, along with state Sen. Page Cortez. Robideaux chaired the House Ways and Means Committee, where the capital outlay budget originated.
Of the $13.5 million allocated for the project, $1.3 million is in Priority 2 funding and $12.2 million is in Priority 5. Gov. Bobby Jindal signed the capital outlay bill into law June 19. The Priority 2 line-of-credit funding will be the first money available.
Airport commissioners were depending on state money as an important source of funding. Together with sales tax proceeds, the state’s contribution will mix with federal aviation grants and borrowed money to reach $90 million.
“The willingness of our area legislators to work to earn the votes needed for this state allocation and the favorable vote of the Legislature shows they are looking at the future while also struggling with the present,” Segura said.
The start of construction is a ways off. This month, commissioners authorized airport Executive Director Steven Picou to issue requests for qualifications to architectural and engineering firms interested in designing the terminal.
According to data collected by the airport consultants Sides & Associates, the number of passengers landing and taking off at Lafayette Regional continues to set records. The first five months of 2015 saw passengers increase 8.2 percent, from 190,467 in January through May 2014 to 206,156 this year.
Airport officials expect the growth trend to continue through 2025, when more than 650,000 are expected to fly in and out of Lafayette Regional.