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Future of flight at BOI: Runways, concourses and parking – here’s what’s ahead at the Boise Airport

It’s one of those funny Idaho facts that surprises newcomers and delights longtime residents.  The third-largest airline in the United States traces its roots to Boise – and still operates here.  United Airlines is a mashup of several air services, the oldest of which – Varney Airlines – was founded in Boise in 1926.

With Boise approaching a full century of commercial flight, the Boise Airport is laying out big plans for how it will operate in years and decades to come.

The latest version of the Boise Airport Master Plan lays out ambitious plans for the Airport between now and 2035 – including garages, a concourse, rental car facilities and more.

And if you’ve been stuck without a spot to wait with the tiny cell phone waiting area – help is on the way for you too.

BoiseDev graphic.

The City of Boise approved a $400,000 expenditure earlier this year for a new cell phone waiting lot according to the Boise Weekly – with a plan to move it to the Victory and Orchard area.

But Briggs said a final site isn’t set in stone yet.

“Boise City Council asked the airport to evaluate potential other locations, and we are currently in that process,” he said. “The location of the expanded cell phone waiting lot has yet to be determined, and it is something we will evaluate further alongside the entirety of our parking plan.”

The initially proposed ‘text me when you land’ lot would have been more than 1.7 road miles away at the current Economy Lot area.

Once that cell lot project is done, airport officials will dig in on a series of projects that will line up like dominoes that could vastly remake the main airport campus in coming years.

The master plan is being reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to Boise Airport spokesperson Sean Briggs – a process that should be wrapped by the end of the year.

“(The) Boise City Council will have the opportunity to adopt the plan after the FAA accepts the final draft,” Briggs noted. “The airport expects this to occur in Jan/Feb of 2019.”

He said the formal public outreach process has ended, but the airport will “still accept, review and consider comments made regarding the master plan study update until the plan is complete.”

First – move a few features

In the next few years, the Airport hopes to begin moving parking and facilities around, to set up changes to come.

Three projects will begin to reshape the Boise Airport campus in coming years. BoiseDev graphic.
  1. New employee garage
    • New five-story structure at Wright St. and Luke St. with space for 880 cars. The Owyhee St. spur from Wright to the airport roadway will close. A covered walkway from the garage to the terminal is planned
  2. New rental car pickup and return garage
    • Right now, rental cars are picked up and returned on the west side of the airport terminal. The master plan would build a 4-story garage to the northwest at the edge of the Airport Way loop. It would include 769 spaces and 16,000 square foot customer service area.
  3. Turn an employee parking lot into longterm parking
    • With the employee garage done, employee parking on the east side of the Airport Way circle would be flipped to longterm parking for the public. The current toll plaza would move to accommodate the change.

Next – more spots to unload planes

Shifting employee and rental car parking will allow for an even more visible change: a new airport concourse – finally giving BOI its missing “A” to join the current B and C concourses.

It would be the first of a series of mid-term projects, envisioned to be completed between 2021 and 2027.

The first phase of the A concourse would include just three gates – all for mainline flights.  A current mainline gate on the B concourse would be converted for regional jet use, giving the airport two new mainline spots and one additional regional gate in the first phase.

The new concourse would form a full “T” shape to the west of the current concourse B off the post-security rotunda area.

More big projects in the mid-term

BoiseDev graphic.
  • Also in the 2021-2027 time frame, a third public parking garage is planned for an area just east of the existing pair of garages. This would another 960 spaces on four levels to the current public garage parking inventory of 2,077 spaces.
  • Crews would begin initial work converting the “assault strip” in the desert southeast of the airport for conversion into a third runway. That project would continue into the “long-range” part of the plan that stretches out as late as 2035.
  • The plans also reveal a major project that would fall into the Ada County Highway District bucket: a complete realignment of Orchard St. south of the New York Canal.  The project would replace a windy section on the west side of the airport campus with a straight shot, allowing for an expanded road grid and areas for new facilities.
  • The Economy Lot would be expanded to allow for more parking at the Orchard St. and Victory Rd. outpost.
  • A new heliport and support hangars would be built on the south side of Gowen Rd. away from the main airfield, near the corner of Pleasant Valley Rd.

Longterm and “ultimate” plans and projections

The plan defines longterm projects in the 2028-2035 timeframe.  The plans also point to a large number of “potential” and “ultimate” projects that don’t currently have a firm date attached.

  • The new A concourse would see an expansion in the future that would again increase gate capacity, adding three additional spots for mainline jets, which along with the first phase mentioned above would bump up the number of mainline planes from 13 today to 19 in the future. Ultimate expansion would add three more regional plane gates for a total of ten new – an increase of nearly a third.
  • A potential new solar farm site along the realigned Orchard St.
  • A number of new and relocated hangars around the airfield.
  • A slight realignment of Gowen Rd. to the south to accommodate a new consolidated cargo facility.
  • New taxiway bridges over Gowen to connect to the future runway to be built where the isolated assault strip is located.
  • Reserved space for an expansion of the current terminal building. When the “new” Boise Airpot baggage and ticketing building opened in 2003, it was designed for expansion to the east of the current pre-security rotunda. The current master plan is saving space – but not currently calling for the development of that space.

Header Photo: Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0

Updated to clarify potentially shifting location of cell phone waiting lot.

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Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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