EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Like many springtime gardeners, the folks at Atlantic City International Airport plan some landscaping to spruce up their property after the long, harsh winter.
But this project figures to be a lot more extensive, and expensive, than planting a few petunias or azaleas in the front yard.
“It’s an overall beautification of the terminal,” said Kevin Rehmann, a spokesman for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, the government agency that owns the airport.
Competitive bids to landscape the front of the terminal and retouch parts of the building’s facade range from $429,600 to $524,434. Rehmann said the bids will be reviewed before the contract is awarded. He was not immediately sure whether the bids fall within the authority’s budget for the project.
The authority hopes to give the grounds and the building a facelift to make the terminal more inviting to airport customers. The landscaping part includes new trees, bushes and flowers. New LED lighting and furnishings also are planned. Parts of the terminal’s exterior would be recoated, painted and dressed up with new ceramic tiles.
Rehmann said some of the work will be concentrated in the older part of the building, where a colorful mural of Atlantic City’s pre-casino skyline decorates the facade.
The mural is made up of tiny ceramic tiles intricately pieced together in a grand mosaic that will remain, Rehmann said. Some of the mural’s tiles are either stained or pitted, suggesting they will need to be cleaned or replaced.
Even worse, the landscaped areas at the foot of the mural are badly eroded, giving airport passengers a poor first impression as they enter the terminal. Weeds have sprouted in some spots and the mulch and grass have worn away in other areas, exposing patches of bare ground. Some of the flowers and shrubs are wilted and appear to be dying or dead.
The outside of the terminal stands in stark contrast with the building’s well-kept interior. The transportation authority has invested tens of millions of dollars into making the terminal more appealing to passengers and airlines. A 2012 expansion project added three more gates and enlarged the baggage-claim area at a cost of about $25 million.
The airport is trying to rebuild its passenger traffic after suffering an 18 percent decline last year that was blamed on the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy. Overall, 1.1 million passengers used the airport in 2013. Airport officials hope that United Airlines’ new flights from Chicago and Houston, combined with this Thursday’s launch of seasonal service to Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit by Spirit Airlines, will boost traffic this year.