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Senator Rosen pushes for funding to update airport


U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) will be in Reno today, Tuesday, to push for swift federal funding of a project to remake the terminal at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. 

The announcement, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the airport, follows a letter sent today to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sharing details of the project and urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to consider the project for funding through its infrastructure budget.

Rosen was part of a bipartisan group of senators that worked on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law on Nov. 15, 2021. 

Reno’s airport renovation project, announced in fall 2022 as MoreRNO, is expected to cost nearly $1 billion and take eight years to complete. Some of that funding could come from the Department of Transportation.

Replacement of both the B and C concourses and all 23 of their gates – plus adding five new gates – is the largest part of that project and is still in the preliminary phases. It was approved by airport trustees Oct. 13, 2022 and is expected to cost $500 million.

“We need a lot more space than we have today,” airport CEO Daren Griffin told members of Washoe’s Board of County Commissioners in November 2022. “Forty-two year old buildings are living on infrastructure that needs to be replaced. We did almost a two year analysis and ultimately the best decision here is to tear them down and build two new ones.” 

Rosen, in her letter to Buttigieg, said the Airport Terminal Program, part of the infrastructure bill, was designed to help airports just like Reno’s RNO. She called the MoreRNO project a “transformational investment to meet the region’s needs.”

“MoreRNO…is critical for improving functional performance and operational efficiency, addressing a forecasted increase in passenger demand,” Rosen said. “Funding through the  Airport Terminal Program I helped create in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help make this vision a reality and enhance an airport that is a key gateway to the fast-growing communities of northern Nevada.” 

Airport officials estimate nearly 4.7 million passengers are served through Reno’s airport each year, and that number is expected to grow. As of January, passengers were up 16.1% over last year and 2.7% from pre-pandemic travel. Anyone who’s spent time waiting for a flight at one of the B concourse gates knows there’s often little room to maneuver, let alone grab a seat before a flight.

RNO is funded primarily through operating revenues from the airlines – such as landing fees and terminal building rents – non-airline revenues such as from parking and concession fees, rents and ground transportation fees. 

This story was updated to note that the MoreRNO project will take about eight years to complete, not 18.

Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience working in marketing, public relations and communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. She also serves as director of communications for Nevada Cancer Coalition, a statewide nonprofit. Though she now lives in Atlanta, she is a Nevadan for life and uses her three-hour time advantage to get a jump on the morning’s news.