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Feb 18, 2014 7:43 PM by Kari Beal

Lafayette airport seeks funding for expansion

Change is in the air at Lafayette Regional Airport. As we've reported, the airport commission is proposing a new terminal and additional parking. Funding for the project, which costs about $90 million, is proposed at the local, state and federal level.

If all is approved, money for the project would come from a combination of local taxes, along with state and federal bonds and funds. Lafayette State Senator Page Cortez is proposing a senate bill to expand the powers of the Lafayette Airport Commission. This would include economic development roles, such as taking out bonds and conducting research.

On a local level, the Lafayette Airport Commission is already proposing a one-cent sales tax over eight months for Lafayette Parish. This would generate an estimated $35 million for the project; it would exclude drugs and groceries. The Lafayette City-Parish Council will decide in April whether to put this on the ballot for voters. If all is approved, the tax would take effect in 2015.

"We think the growth of the airport, year over year over year, will require either more flights or bigger airplanes, or both," Director of Aviation at Lafayette Regional Airport, Greg Roberts said.

The number of passengers in-and-out of the Lafayette Airport is up 3% in the last 20 years, and 2013 marks the fourth record breaking year in a row. Lafayette resident Cecil Anderson said the proposal for additional parking wins his vote.

"Today we came in and we actually got here early and we had to wait for another car to leave before we had a spot to pull into." Anderson said. "I'd be willing to support that because we need additional parking at the airport."

Roberts said the project would create three years of construction jobs and the new terminal could allow the addition of more direct flights.

"We talk to the airlines and we say look at how many people we have going, to let's say Denver. Last year we laid out our case to fly Lafayette to Denver and they offered seven days a week, one flight each day," Roberts said.

If the proposals don't go through Roberts said they would have to re-evaluate and figure out other avenues of funding.

"Quite frankly the $90 million terminal that we are talking about today can't be built without support of the general public," Roberts said.

Want to see more stories from Kari? Follow her on Twitter @Kari_EBeal and Facebook.



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