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COLUMBIA - As Columbia Regional Airport plans to expand, it got a push from Mayor Brian Treece.

Treece called for city council to join him in a request for an expedited location for the new airport terminal.

He also announced the FAA accepted the City's Terminal Master Plans for the new terminal in hangar 350, as well as conditional approval for the Airport Layout Plan.

The FAA approved the plan due to the increasing travel numbers out of Columbia Regional Airport, though it has not specifically approved the proposed site for the terminal.

"By relocating this hangar, we will have a dedicated space for our commercial aircraft," said Treece.

The airport has seen a steady increase in traffic within the last three months. In October, total passenger traffic reached 19,571 people, amassing a previous record of 17,702 passengers set the month before, according to airport data.

The current 50-year-old terminal "does not meet 100% ADA requirements," and is not energy efficient, according to Treece.

He said this new expedited plan will save money and time.

"Anytime we have an opportunity to bring a project in ahead of schedule and under budget we ought to pursue it," he said. "The original cost of the infrastructure and terminal building was around $40 million, and by using the current taxiway, ramps and apron and parking lots, they expect to save about $8 million."

Columbia voters approved a temporary lodging tax in August 2016 to fund $10 million of the terminal. The city began the process of updating the airport Layout Plan and completing the Terminal Area Master Plan two years ago.

"Locating the terminal immediately south of the existing terminal has the potential to save a lot of money by reusing traffic ways, taxi ways and parking lots," Treece said.

Karl Skala, Third Ward City Councilman, said "This is a welcome addition and I think the community should be pleased that we're moving ahead with it in a expedited fashion."

Skala said he doesn't think parking will be affected.

"But I think there is some contingency plans for the parking to make sure that the existing operations won't be interrupted," he said.

After the terminal is available it will allow up to eight total airlines, which could possibly include trips to Phoenix and Charlotte.

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify that the proposed location of the terminal has not yet been approved by the FAA, though the City's Terminal Master Plans were approved.)

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