PORTLAND – The Portland International Jetport’s expanded terminal will open Oct. 2, officials said Friday.

That is when outbound passengers will encounter changes including a new security checkpoint with lots of room.

Airport manager Paul Bradbury announced the opening date during a meeting with city and state officials and Christa Fornarotto, the Federal Aviation Administration’s associate administrator for airports, who toured the under-contruction terminal and its new geothermal heating and cooling system.

The announcement is the latest sign that the $75 million expansion is taking shape. The terminal’s wooden ceiling has been installed and a team has been reviewing plans for the explosives-detection system, said Bradbury.

The expansion project’s $3 million geothermal heating system, funded largely by a $2.5 million FAA Voluntary Airport Low-Emissions grant, was the focus of the FAA visit.

Since 2005, the agency has funded 42 low-emission projects at 22 airports, including such items as electric bag tugs and belt loaders, natural-gas refueling stations for airport buses and shuttles, and solar-powered facilities.

Maine is the only state with airports that have geothermal heating and cooling. Portland will have the first large terminal with such a system. A smaller geothermally heated terminal opened at the Knox County Airport in Owls Head in December.

“You are really blazing the trail,” said Fornarotto.

Jake Plante, the FAA’s special assistant on the environment, said the Portland airport’s geothermal system is getting attention from airports across the country. “Portland is showing you can do it on a large scale,” he said.

Construction of the 137,000-square-foot expansion, which began in May 2010, is slightly ahead of schedule and expected to be fully open by the end of February.

It will add three gates and expand seating. The expansion is also designed to improve baggage handling and ticketing. A new food court will include Maine-based restaurant chains such as Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Lobster Roll, as well as national chains such as Burger King.

The expansion is being paid for with federal stimulus funds and per-ticket passenger fees.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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