Colorado Springs Airport terminal (copy)

Travelers head out of the Colorado Springs Airport after a flight arrival in January.

There’s a silver lining to the fire that damaged all three floors at the Colorado Springs Airport in April 2018, Aviation Director Greg Phillips said Monday, and it’s shining through now.

For pennies on the dollar, Phillips said, the airport will be redone. Work on a third phase of construction began late last month and is expected to be finished by spring 2020.

“The entire public area will be totally remodeled up to 2019 standards for $1.2 million,” Phillips said. “We’re pretty pleased with it.”

In all, insurance reimbursed the airport $8.8 million for the fire, sparked by propane torches used by roofers repairing hail damage, Phillips said. But with already budgeted money, the insurance checks could be used not only to repair but also to upgrade, he said.

“It was too good of an opportunity and it would have been silly just to repair everything back to normal when we knew we needed some upgrades,” Phillips said. “When all is said and done with all the remediation and all the upgrades, we expect the number to be right at $10 million.”

The airport will also install five new escalators, he said.

Damage was initially estimated at $5 million, Phillips recalled, but that figure quickly expanded.

“It was like an onion,” he said. “You peel back a layer and say, ‘Oh, gosh, look at this; there’s more we’ve got to do.’ ”

The first two phases of repairs and construction are finished, Phillips said. The first phase brought the third floor back into service while ensuring the airport could remain operational. The second phase, which finished in March, repaired and upgraded the second floor.

Now, the third and final phase of construction is tackling the first floor, Phillips said. The main floor is the most public and suffered smoke and water damage from the fire.

“We’re going to raise the ceilings, get rid of all the soffits, install all new LED lighting, we’re going to redo all the counters for rental car companies, the information desk,” he said. “All new carpeting.”

The entrance will also receive a face-lift, Phillips said.

“The lower floor has always looked like a sturdy place, but kind of a bunker,” he said. “We’re expecting this will open that up and give it a much lighter, more welcoming feeling.”

Baggage handling will be shifted during the construction, but the move shouldn’t hinder travel plans, he said.

The public restrooms will also be upgraded, several at a time, Phillips said.

An additional project will replace the airport’s 25-year-old escalators, Phillips said. All five will be replaced in phases for an additional $1.5 million. That work is also expected to be finished next year, he said.

“Our staff has done a phenomenal job,” he said. “Our contractors have been really great partners and most importantly our customers have been really patient with us.” @conrad_swanson

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