CLE Master Plan Update (January 2021)
An update to the CLE Master Planning process was posted to the plan website (https://clevelandairportmasterplan.com/) after a meeting on January 12, 2021, largely focused on the various "Terminal Family" plans under consideration. I'm not sure if this was an open meeting, as I did not hear anything about it, nor was I notified as I have for the previous meetings. The presentations referred to Executive and Working Committees. Interestingly, I have seen no news story in the local media about this update. So, I will attempt to summarize some of the highlights from this meeting. The presentation first noted a number of so called, “critical elements to address for space deficiencies in the near and mid-term” based on passenger Planning Activity Levels—PAL 1: 2019's passenger total (10.1 million) and PAL 2: 10.9 million passengers. These critical needs are summarized here. I think most travelers to CLE recognize the "pain points" of today's aging terminal built for a different era. The only one missing is the small and poorly located international arrivals area at the end of Concourse A. The airport management recognizes this deficiency, and it will definitely be addressed in any new/remodeled terminal.
The core of the session was a discussion of previously presented Terminal Families for further analysis. Three families were evaluated in greater depth, 1, 2 and 6.
The consultant immediately rejected Family 6, the most ambitious, complex and expensive plan. It would have included a totally new terminal complex south of the current one, including a linear concourse connected to the main terminal by a tunnel (resembling Delta's Detroit Metro Airport terminal). No mention was made of how the current RTA Red Line rapid transit would feature in this concept, but I bet this was another reason not to move forward with this more exciting plan.
It then evaluated and compared Family 1 (the least ambitious but with a reused and remodeled main terminal and Concourse D and a greatly expanded Concourse B) and Family 2. Family 1, essentially taking the current 50 year old terminal built over a 65 year old terminal and expanding and modernizing it. However, the consultants determined this option would have higher initial, maintenance and replacement costs, fewer options for expansion, including of concession options, and less efficient gate layout and way-finding. RS&H Consultants ultimately recommended Terminal Family 2, which would consist of a brand new terminal essentially built around the current one, a remodeled/expanded Concourse A, a totally new Concourse B (which would include international arrivals gates liked directly to a new Federal Inspection Services (FIS) facility in the main terminal), and totally new Concourses C & D.
All of these would be phased in based on passenger demand. For example, Concourse D, complete with the connector tunnel (and those very cool "paper airplane" mobiles hanging from the ceiling), would be temporarily reactivated and used to provide gate space when the current Concourse B is razed and a new one built. Concourses A & C would be renovated until the newly built C & D would be needed.
There was one line from the presentation that I found encouraging, option 2 "provides superior customer experience & potential for iconic Terminal Building image." There are also proposals about landside facilities development, including bringing the Rental Car Center and Cell Phone lot back on airport property, new roadway traffic flow, and shifting and additional development of Cargo, General Aviation, Maintenance areas. The I-X Center looks to be saved in all design concepts. However, there does not appear to be any proposed use for the I-X Center.
It would have been good to actually hear the presentation and be able to ask some clarifying questions. I would hope they have another public meeting sometime soon to formerly present it and seek public feedback.
Of course, the plan has not been finalized nor approved by the city or other regulatory bodies. Funding plans and clearer definitions of "triggers" over the next 20 years that will initiate each specific project also have to be determined. I am hopeful that this plan will actually result in a new, modern, more efficient and pleasant CLE.
Check out the full presentation here: https://clevelandairportmasterplan.c...ttee-mtg-3.pdf