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Microgrid, terminal expansion among major projects being planned for GSP

B Concourse expansion
GSP Airport
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GSP Airport
B Concourse expansion

It’s no secret most travelers from across the region love flying into and out of Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, which is why GSP leaders are planning about $500 million in capital improvements in the next few years.

As the airport has continued adding more direct flights to new destinations in recent years, it has also embarked on a variety of projects to improve the experience travelers have when using the airport, according to Dave Edwards, GSP president and CEO.

Steady expansion

Rendering provided by LS3P
LS3P
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LS3P
Rendering provided by LS3P

In February the airport broke ground on Parking Garage C, a $97 million project that will add 1,500 parking spaces. Half of those spaces will form part of a greatly expanded and updated rental-car facility within the garage that is expected to speed up and streamline the process of picking up or returning rentals.

Edwards said the Garage C project is the first of a number of capital projects to improve GSP’s capacity.

Combined with the $17 million project for roadway and curbside improvements expected to be completed within the next few months, the Garage C project will pave the way for a $250 million terminal expansion planned for 2029-30.

Edwards said expansion could add six to eight new gates to Concourse B, depending on need.

In the meantime, the airport will see a number of “enabling” projects, including utility and other infrastructure improvements necessary to support the terminal expansion.

Power planning

An example of a solar power station energy storage.
istock photo
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istock photo
An example of a solar power station energy storage.

The increasing use of electric vehicles and automation have also become important components in GSP’s plans for the future.

Edwards said the airport has shovel-ready plans for an automated shuttle system that would connect all the airport’s economy parking and employee lots with the terminal. Funding for the $100 million project has not yet been identified, but Edwards said he hopes grant funding and/or federal and state sources for the project will be identified this year.

Another project recognizes the increasing demand on the state’s electric grid as more people and businesses move to the region.

To make GSP more resilient and environmentally sustainable, Edwards said the airport is looking at installing a 2.5-megawatt solar farm with a 3-megawatt battery storage system that could accomplish a number of goals.

He said such a system could supplement energy drawn from the grid to power airport operations and meet the expected growth in demand due to more electric vehicles coming to the airport and needing recharging.

Edwards said such a system could also help lower operational costs by giving the airport the ability to rely on its own power sources or sell excess power back to utilities.

He added that he expects such systems to be more widely adopted by airports around the country and globally.

“When we talk about it as an industry, we really think that airports around the country and around the world are going to become, in many cases, their own utility provider or at least become a significant part of the utility grid system,” he said.

GSP: A decade of growth

Here’s a snapshot of the major capital improvements the airport has planned for most of the next decade:

  • 2023-24 — Terminal Roadway Improvement Project ($18 million)
  • 2024-26 — Parking garage C ($97 million)
  • 2026-27 — Infrastructure upgrades to support terminal expansion
  • 2027-28 — Baggage claim expansion for north end of terminal
  • 2028-30 — Complete design and break ground on Concourse B expansion ($250 million)

This story was filed as part of an editorial partnership between South Carolina Public Radio and the Greenville Journal, which is responsible for its content. You can learn more about the Greenville Journal here.

Jay King is a senior staff writer at Community Journals.