Dubuque Regional Airport expansion moves forward - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque Regional Airport expansion moves forward

By Lauren Squires

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- After years of trying, expansion efforts are starting to take off at Dubuque's Regional Airport. Just last year, Northwest began flights from Dubuque to Minneapolis -- giving Dubuque two airlines, along with American Eagle.

The FAA says the number of passengers flying out of Dubuque is up more than 7,000 since 2004. But the physical expansion of the airport has been grounded over a dispute to buy farmland near the airport. Now the expansion is finally flying in the right direction.

It's a typical day at the Dubuque Regional Airport. But while this flight leaves for Chicago, big changes are landing at the airport.

"Our existing terminal was constructed in 1947 and now it's obsolete," said Robert Grierson, airport manager.

In 2005, the airport adopted an expansion plan -- including building a new, bigger terminal.

"This will give greater flexibility to adding our travelers needs, and to be able to expand," said Grierson.

With a terminal as small as Dubuque's, officials say they can only offer a few flights out of Dubuque. But with an expansion on the horizon that could mean more flights to more places right here out of the airport. The modern facility will offer expansion options, better parking and new jobs for the Tri-states.

"We'll have a new terminal building which will be constructed on that farm there and that's 103 acres," said Grierson.

He says there's a tentative deal to buy adjacent land for the expansion -- but that deal needs money. This week, that money landed in the form of a 1.4 million dollar grant from the US Department of Transportation.

And the Grierson says the next step "depends on the stimulus dollars going to the fee to give to us."

Once those dollars are allocated and the land acquired, the terminal expansion project will take flight. When the new terminal is finished, the airport plans to rent out the old one to the University of Dubuque Flight School.

Online reporter: Lauren Squires

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