Arnold Palmer airport passenger bridge nearing completion
Westmoreland County Airport Authority members Tuesday toured the new passenger boarding bridge that is expected to be ready for use at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport by the end of July.
Authority engineer Scott Kunselman said electrical work has yet to be completed on the bridge, which arrived at the Unity airport in mid-June. Trucked from supplier Ameribridge Services, headquartered in Indianapolis, the bridge was lifted into place by a crane.
Crews were installing carpeting Tuesday on a new switchback ramp leading up to the bridge. Workers were completing conversion of a former baggage handling area into a secured waiting room that will have seating for 48 passengers.
An existing passenger bridge, installed in 2006, was designed for use with Boeing 737 airplanes and had to be modified when Spirit Airlines became the airport’s sole commercial carrier, in 2011.
“That bridge is getting old,” Kunselman said. “The airport will still have it in use, but at a lesser pace.”
According to Kunselman, the new bridge is designed specifically for use with the Airbus planes Spirit uses to fly from Arnold Palmer to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and destinations in Florida. The new, longer bridge will be used at a length of 120 feet but can telescope to 140 feet if need be.
Because of the difference in design, passengers using the old bridge have to ascend a grade of about 8%, while the new bridge will be reached on a less steep slope.
“It works better for people with disabilities,” Kunselman said.
Having a second bridge will make it more convenient for passengers when two Spirit flights arrive at the airport in close proximity.
Most of the funding for the roughly $1.3 million project is being provided by the Federal Aviation Administration. The airport authority will be responsible for a 5% local share., Kunselman said.
Director back to work part-time
Authority Executive Director Gabe Monzo participated in the tour after attending the authority’s Tuesday morning board meeting. He told the board he has returned to work part-time, between six and seven hours per day, as he continues to recover from liver transplant surgery.
In the April 9 living-donor procedure in Pittsburgh, Monzo received a portion of liver donated by his niece, Casey Holnaider Vrable of Latrobe. Before the surgery, Monzo had struggled for months with the draining effects of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a chronic disease that causes liver inflammation and damage.
“Thank you for all your nice comments and all your help throughout the past few months,” he told board members.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .