Crews are gaining ground on a major capital improvement project that will replace half of the jet bridges at the Quad-City International Airport.

In the planning for the past two years, the $2.5 million project involves the installation of five new jet bridges. Jet bridges are moveable passageway structures that connect the terminal to the aircraft.

Bryan Johnson, the airport's assistant aviation director, said the airport identified its five oldest bridges for replacement — the airport has 10 bridges. The new equipment was manufactured by JBT AeroTech, which is assisting  Walter Niese Machine, based in Chicago, which is doing the actual installation.

Crews have been using a crane to remove the old bridges and installing the new ones on site.  Johnson said work began last summer on replacing the concrete where the bridges will be positioned. 

The new bridges are a federally funded project.

Johnson said the bridges are used by passengers boarding and exiting aircraft. They also have components that provide power, heat, air conditioning and pre-conditioned air for airplanes while they are parked at the terminal. 

The equipment being replaced dates back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, Johnson said. "Normally these last considerably longer, but so much has changed in recent years with the jet bridge design, materials and now even sustainability." 

According to Johnson, jet bridges traditionally are serviced by gas engines but a new emphasis on sustainability now has manufacturers eliminating the emissions-producing engines. In turn, he said, that ultimately helps reduce the airport's emission footprint.

Johnson said the first of the bridges was installed last week and a second should be in place at the end of this week. "It takes about a week per bridge. The whole project should be complete by the end of January."

Also driving the need for new bridges is that the previous bridges had some restrictions in "whether they could reach up to larger aircraft and down to smaller aircraft."

"These will give us the most flexibility as it relates to aircraft so we can serve the large aircraft down to the smaller regional and charter jets," Johnson said. 

He said the new bridges should be in service for 25 to 30 years and that the remaining older bridges will be replaced over the next decade.

   

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