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Published: Friday, 1/28/2005

Detroit Metro reviews plans for new terminal

Wayne County officials are reviewing several design concepts for building a new terminal at Detroit Metropolitan-Wayne County Airport on the site of buildings vacated three years ago when Northwest Airlines moved into its new midfield hub.

The new North Terminal, expected to cost more than $400 million, would replace the antiquated Smith Terminal, now used by airlines including American, United, Southwest, America West, Spirit, US Airways, Air Canada, and Independence Air. Delta also uses the Smith now, but will soon move to the midfield McNamara Terminal.

Wayne County Airport Authority officials yesterday released three alternatives for building a new facility on the site of the Davey Terminal, vacant since Northwest moved to the McNamara in early 2002. All three concepts involve establishing a row of gates parallel to the existing access road. Two of them propose reusing part of the Davey's old Concourse C, but otherwise the plans avoid the extended gate piers that once caused Metro's notoriously long walks.

Officials expect to select one concept next month. Lester Robinson, the airport authority's chief executive, said the Davey Terminal's demolition could begin by early June, with the new terminal's construction to start next year.

The new facility will be designed to accommodate stricter passenger security and baggage screening and inspection requirements imposed in recent years to combat terrorism, while extending the functional and aesthetic features of the McNamara Terminal to the rest of Metro airport, Mr. Robinson said.

"We have the opportunity to design and construct a terminal to efficiently accommodate the new passenger screening criteria, as well as 100 percent checked-baggage screening," he said.

Once the new terminal opens - tentatively by late 2008 - the Smith Terminal is to be torn down.

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