January 18, 2023

Plans for Expansion Of Airport Terminal Proceeding on Schedule

By Anne Levin

To those who use Trenton-Mercer Airport for business or leisure travel, the announcement last spring of a planned expansion and modernization was welcome news. The Ewing Township airport’s 28,000-square-foot terminal, built in the 1970s, is to be replaced with a new 125,000-square-foot terminal built next to the existing facility, with gates to accommodate four aircrafts.

A 1,000-space parking garage is also part of the plan. Design of the project is targeted for completion late this year or early in 2024.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave Mercer County the go-ahead in March to proceed with phase 2 of the new terminal’s design. There is continued opposition to the plan by a group called Trenton Threatened Skies, citing noise, traffic, and threats to the environment including chemical contamination flowing into the Delaware River.

The FAA’s “Finding of No Significant Impacts and Record of Decision” for the Environmental Assessment says the expansion does not have the potential for significant environmental impacts. Trenton Threatened Skies has challenged that assessment, filing a legal petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Trenton-Mercer Airport was officially opened in 1929, with aviation pioneers Amelia Earhart and James Doolittle in attendance at the ceremony. Currently served by Frontier Airlines, the airport has been used by commercial airlines as well as the aviation departments of several Fortune 100 companies as well as the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, the New Jersey Army National Guard, the Civil Air Patrol, and the Mercer County Community College Flight School, according to information from the county.

“Since at least 2015, Mercer County has been looking to design and build a new passenger terminal that would meet our current and future needs,” said County Executive Brian Hughes when the FAA’s approval was announced. “We want to ensure that our airport takes advantage of future opportunities and the economic impact that could result, confident that the return on investment would be very positive.”

Mercer County made $7 million in terminal improvements and parking lots in 2013. The new design is projected to meet forecasted demands for air travel in the area through 2035. Baggage handling, screening, concessions, and waiting areas will be improved. The overall size of the airport will not change, and there are no plans for new or longer runways. The airport currently has two runways.

“The FAA recommends a facility at least twice the size of our existing terminal based on current use,” Hughes said. “By comparison, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport had almost 220,000 enplanements in 2015 — a little more than half the number at TTN — yet its 11-year-old terminal is five times larger.”

The FAA’s approvals last spring included relocation of the building designated for aircraft rescue and firefighting, and stormwater management.

For more information, visit ttnterminal.com.