Airport upgrade in flight

UPGRADE ON TIME: The second stage of the Mount Gambier Regional Airport is complete a month early and under budget.

ONE of the region’s most anticipated infrastructure upgrades has been completed, with the second stage of the Mount Gambier Regional Airport opening a month ahead of schedule and under budget.

The Grant District Council owned and operated terminal will open its doors from Monday, November 9 following the early completion of the second stage of upgrades.

The $6.2m stage two upgrade includes two main departure lounges, departure ramps and access airside, amenities, carpet and painting, in addition to outside works comprising of landscaping and signage.

Designed by Ashley Halliday Architects, the development has been constructed within the existing footprint of the terminal building and incorporates some vacant land, increasing the floor size to 1060sqm.

The interior design features a central, open entrance hall that facilitates movement between arrivals and departures, along with the associated areas for check-in, cafe, seating and hire car bookings.

Using local elements as colour palette inspiration, the design includes ashlar limestone cladding, black and white interlocking panel roofing, radial timber silver-top ash cladding and featured element using local timber.

A large circular skylight sits over the main entrance to provide natural light and symbolises the sinkholes found in the Limestone Coast region.

Architect Ashley Halliday said the airport was both a state-of-the-art transport terminal and an ambassador for the region, offering visitors both their first and last impressions.

“It was important to create a charismatic gateway that captured the unique essence of the Limestone Coast Region,” he said.

“The epic round skylight clad in charred timber and the forest of pine logs are something different, making people aware that they’ve arrived somewhere special”.

Construction on the $9.2m project started in October 2018 and was co-funded by Grant District Council and State and Federal Government, as well as through a $500,000 funding contribution by the Mount Gambier City Council.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin said the $3.5m Federal contribution ensured the long-awaited and important infrastructure project could take shape.

“This project has not only created important jobs in the midst of an economic crisis, but the redeveloped facilities make for a more positive visitor experience for those visiting our region,” he said.

“I congratulate the District Council of Grant on successfully undertaking this important infrastructure project which will serve the needs of our community long into the future.”

Grant District Council chief executive Darryl Whicker said despite the challenges of 2020, council and Kennett Builders were able to bring forward the construction schedule and continue the build over the winter months.

Mr Whicker said a $640,000 savings was realised as a result of outstanding project management, which was reallocated to extend the footprint of the terminal.

He said inclusion friendly amenities were installed for people wit a lived experience of disability.

“From the beginnings of securing the funding right through to this final stage, the project has been collaborative and well executed by all lead contractors and sub-contractors and in particular the staff team behind the scenes,” he said.

Kennett Builders project Carlin McNeil praised contractors and businesses for remaining patient and supportive through the build.

“This Terminal is a key piece of infrastructure for our community and despite the challenges of 2020, it’s great to reflect on what we’ve achieved as a building company in partnership with the District Council of Grant and Ashley Halliday,” he said.

“We hope the community is pleased with the result.”

The overall project had four main components to the upgrade, with an extension of the main runway to service larger aircraft, a new heavy aircraft apron to house a larger contingent of fire bombers and a full electrical upgrade from the previous 1950s system accounting for a third – $3m – of the project.