Port of Bellingham celebrates completion of $38.6 million airport expansion


BELLINGHAM - No more boarding planes from a detached portable building or elbowing to pick up luggage from a bag slide now that the Bellingham International Airport's terminal expansion is complete.

The Port of Bellingham celebrated the airport's $38.6 million expansion with speeches by officials and behind-the-scenes tours Thursday, Feb. 20.

Since the project began with design work in 2008, the terminal has grown from 27,000 square feet to 105,000. The terminal now has a gate lobby with eight boarding gates and a sit-down restaurant, an expanded ticket lobby with 20 ticket agent openings - up from eight - and a roomy baggage claim area with a carousel.

"It really does make it feel like it's arrived, like it's a true airport," said Patricia Jorgensen, whose husband is Port Commissioner Jim Jorgensen.

Cynthia Anderson, an administrative assistant for Horizon and Alaska airlines, has been working at the airport since 2003, when the port was just starting to discuss expansion.

"I've seen it pretty much from the beginning," Anderson said.

She remembers when the airport was small: ticket takers knew many passengers by their first names, and employees parked right next to the building. Now the employees park off-site and take a shuttle, and the airport is a draw for droves of traveling Canadians.

"It's gone from that quaint little airport it used to be to a larger, big-city-feel airport," Anderson said.

There were some growing pains during the construction, she said, but the organization of the expansion kept things running smoothly.

"To see it finally done, it's marvelous," she said.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

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