FARGO-Airport Authority board members got their first glimpse of architectural drawings depicting an elevated walkway that would run through the middle of the parking area and connect with the terminal.
The skyway, which has an estimated price tag of $13 million to $15 million, remains a proposal. Any decision about whether to proceed with the project would come only after bids are received, and that is months into the future.
But the unveiling of the renderings, presented Tuesday, Feb. 13, by Terry Stroh of TL Stroh Architects, marked a milestone in the Airport Authority's long dialogue about how to shield airport patrons from the harsh elements when they park and sometimes must trudge long distances with their baggage.
Eventually the skyway could work in tandem with a parking ramp, which plans would place to the west of the elevated walkway, near the terminal at Hector International Airport. A parking ramp likely would cost twice as much as a skyway, and would be ineligible for federal funding.
Stroh presented about a dozen drawings, depicting the skyway from various perspectives, including interior, exterior and aerial views.
"They look super," said Virginia Clark Johnson, the authority board chairwoman. "We're really excited about how they look."
The walkway would be supported by four structures that also would house stairways and elevators.
"It's a large, hospital-type elevator, so it's a pretty good size," Stroh said.
The elevators would be large enough to accommodate a family of four, perhaps as many as six, and their luggage. Still, he added, many likely would opt to use the stairs, which would provide quicker access.
The walkway will be 16 feet wide, narrowing to 12 feet at trusses, and can provide platforms for advertising, Stroh said. The skyway would be heated and cooled.
"It's nice and lit and attractive to be in," he said. "It's relatively simple. It's a pretty large structure, when you get right down to it."
As designed, the skyway does not include a moving walkway, which are costly to buy and maintain, but the structure could easily allow that modification in the future, Stroh said.
In mild weather, people might prefer to skip the skywalk. To accommodate them, ground-level walkways on either side of the elevated platform could be built, Stroh said. Only a few parking spots would be lost to the skyway, he said.
The design fee for the skyway is a little more than $1 million, said Shawn Dobberstein, the Airport Authority's executive director. The authority has about $8 million in its construction fund. It also could tap its reserve fund or issue bonds, as well as seek federal grant funds, to pay for the skyway, he said.
"This will probably play out through the summer," Dobberstein said, referring to discussions about whether to go ahead with the skyway.