Meacham Airport renovation project adds Customs facility

The Fort Worth City Council unanimously approved additional construction plans for the ongoing renovation at Meacham International Airport — plans that include a U.S. Customs facility among other projects.

With the additional construction plans, the total cost of the project will rise from about $17.5 million to about $21.4 million. Construction, which totals to about $19.4 million, takes up most of the cost. Along with a Customs facility, the additional construction plans include a taxilane north of the administration building, underground utility work and some design changes.

Construction of a Customs facility costs an estimated $500,000. According to a city staff report submitted to council members, integrating the Customs facility into the airport’s administration building would be cheaper than constructing a standalone facility, which is why the cost of the Customs facility was added to the ongoing project.

Aviation Systems Director Bill Welstead said the Customs facility will be located in the airport’s renovated administration building and will need features like bombproof walls and bulletproof glass.

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Discussion about adding a Customs facility began about two years ago, Welstead said, when Meacham received requests from businesses wanting to add Customs to the airport. Currently, planes flying from overseas would go through Customs at other airports such as Dallas Love Field, then take off again and fly to Meacham.

Welstead said not having a Customs facility hurts business at the airport, as some businesses had expressed not wanting to use Meacham due to the airport’s lack of a Customs facility.

Still, the airport has gotten busier over the past three years. According to Welstead, Meacham had a 22.27 percent increase in operations between 2014 and 2015. In 2015, 117,060 planes came in and out of the airport. That’s compared to 95,735 planes in 2014 and 89,332 planes in 2013.

“It’s a great time at Meacham,” Welstead said. “Things are going well.”

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In addition to approving additional construction, City Council also voted fund part of the Meacham project with revenue from mineral leases on airport property. About $2.3 million from the Airports Gas Lease Capital Project Fund will go toward the Meacham project. The fund has about $4.2 million at the moment.

The initial plans for Meacham’s renovation received approval from City Council in March 2014. Hahnfeld Hoffer Stanford is the architect for the project, while Imperial Construction is handling construction. The renovation is slated to finish August 2016.