MidAmerica Airport celebrates terminal expansion that nearly doubles its size
Passengers at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah will now see a terminal that’s nearly doubled in size with the completion of a four-year project.
Finished Friday and celebrated by airport leaders and area officials on Tuesday, the project will add 41,000 square feet to the existing 53,500-square-foot facility.
“We’re looking to leverage as much as possible to help expand our facilities," said Bryan Johnson, the airport’s director.
The project added two boarding bridges, increasing from four to six. It provides passengers with a new TSA screening area, family restrooms, a nursing room, a service animal relief area, an expanded departure lounge and a below-ground storm shelter.
The airport, which currently offers flights on Allegiant, also made renovations to better accommodate passengers with disabilities, like a larger elevator and accessible seating.
“This is a great day for the Metro East, and this is just the beginning,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker told the crowd at Tuesday’s ceremony.
In part, the project was funded by $31 million in both federal and state grants through the Federal Aviation Administration. Another roughly $3 million came from St. Clair County, which owns a portion of the airport.
St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern said he hopes the terminal expansion will help increase traffic — and that means more money to help pay off the debt. Just the year before, MidAmerica set a record for passengers in 2022.
“We have to continue to grow in the meantime,” Kern said. “It’s the only way that you continue to grow and pay all those bonds off, and we're able to do it with more and more airport revenue all the time, which is the key.”
In 2021, the county’s bill for MidAmerica stood at nearly $120 million, according to the Belleville News-Democrat. Kern hopes this project, and a host of others, make it possible to pay off those debts within 10 years.
The elected officials who supported MidAmerica’s creation since the early 1990s have justified the airport’s debt by saying its runway helped to keep Scott Air Force Base open at a time when bases were being closed across the country.
The completion of the terminal expansion comes on the back of a number of other changes coming to the joint-use airport shared by the Air Force:
- Boeing is nearing completion on a naval drone production facility built adjacent to MidAmerica’s facilities. That plant is scheduled to open later this fall.
- MetroLink will expand from Scott to the airport with a $96 million state grant. That 5.5-mile extension is expected to be finished by the end of 2024.
- A new 3,100-foot taxiway between Scott and MidAmerica’s runways should be finished at the end of July. That $37.7 million project is funded by a number of state grants.
- MidAmerica leaders say they’re awaiting a pending deal between Allegiant and VivaAerobus, a Mexican airline, that would allow international flights to places like Cancun from the Metro East.
“They’re all really coming together at the same time,” Johnson said.
Other Pritzker stops in the Metro East
Pritzker, Metro East leaders and top officials with both the Missouri and Illinois departments of transportation on Tuesday touted the start of construction on the Interstate 270 bridge, known as the New Chain of Rocks Bridge, across the Mississippi River.
The $531.6 million project, which kicked off earlier this year, will turn the single bridge into six lanes across twin bridges by 2026, officials said. Both Missouri and Illinois contributed millions for the project.
“Fewer accidents and lower travel time — that's what truck drivers and motorists can look forward to when this river bridge project is completed,” Pritzker said.
State officials expect the project to serve the growing warehouse corridor in nearby Edwardsville and Pontoon Beach — and the manufacturing and freight from the area’s industries.
Pritizer also stopped by a Cahokia Heights elementary school to praise Illinois’ budget passed last month by state lawmakers.