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The Dane County Regional Airport will be undergoing a major expansion and upgrade over the next three years to handle an ever-growing number of passengers using Madison’s airport.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, airport director Bradley Livingston and other officials announced plans on Wednesday for Phase I of the multi-year project, with $25 million in the county’s capital budget this year to start the work.

Brent Kyzer-McHenry, the airport’s spokesman, said the total cost of the project won’t be known until a needs assessment, engineering assessment and bidding are completed.

“The Dane County Regional Airport is part of the economic engine of this region,” Parisi said at an airport news conference Wednesday. “We have world-class businesses here, and we are proud that we have a world-class hub for both business and leisure travelers.”

The first part of Phase I will be to replace aircraft boarding bridges this year. Phase I also will include selecting consultants for the design, engineering, architecture and timeline for the bulk of the work, starting in 2019.

The modernization includes new gate seating areas, restrooms, security, safety and access systems, and new environmentally friendly heating and cooling systems in the seating areas, common areas and bridge areas.

“As the Dane County Regional Airport continues to add flights to desired destinations and serve more travelers, updates and expansions are necessary for both the quality of the travel experience, as well as security and efficiency,” Livingston said.

“This airport is at the forefront of design and amenities, and we are committed to continuing to ensure that the airport remains the preferred choice for all travelers,” he said.

New non-stop flights to Philadelphia and San Francisco are starting this year, and non-stop service to Las Vegas began in 2017.

There now are 15 cities that airlines fly non-stop to and from Madison, with close to 100 daily departures and arrivals. Last year, more than 1.8 million passengers were served at Dane County Regional Airport, the most in the airport’s long history.

The former Madison-owned municipal airport became a regional airport under Dane County control in 1974, when it saw 500,000 passengers a year.

Kyzer-McHenry said the planned changes won’t affect the security checkpoints, but will modernize more back-of-the-house security, such as fire and emergency alerting systems.

The bridges at 10 of the airport’s 13 gates will be replaced this year and in early 2019, he said. The work will be staggered to make sure it doesn’t affect the facility’s functioning.

While the new bridges will replace ones that have been in service for many years, they also come with environmental benefits, Kyzer-McHenry said.

The new bridges’ heating and cooling functions will be able to hook into waiting airplanes, removing the need for airplanes to use auxiliary power to keep passengers comfortable by using the airport’s energy instead, he said.

The most recent major upgrade and expansion to the regional airport was completed in 2006. The $65 million, five-year project doubled the size of the terminal, added restaurant and shop space, increased the number of baggage claim carousels and revamped security checkpoints.

“That build-out is still adequate today. It’s just we want to be ready for the next step,” Kyzer-McHenry said.

In 2008, a $30 million project added a 1,240-space parking ramp next to an existing 1,600-space ramp.

Kyzer-McHenry said airport upgrades and expansions are funded by revenue the airport generates.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

Logan Wroge has been a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal since 2015.