CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Gerald R. Ford International Airport officials broke ground on the first phase of a new federal inspection station.

When completed, the federal inspection station will allow the airport to bring in nonstop international commercial passenger flights. Currently, the airport can’t process direct international arrival unless it’s a private plane.

Phase 1 of the construction project is taking place on the east end of the terminal. It will include a new baggage claim area, restrooms and operation infrastructure. The new features will be used for domestic flights until the full federal inspection station is completed.

The timeline to complete the project is unclear.

The $30-million project is not using any local taxpayer dollars but will be paid for with a combination of federal and state grants, municipal bonds issued by the airport and user fees, according to the airport.  

“We are confident that air travel will recover and we will get to substantial levels. Our board’s focus has always been to challenge the staff. We want to make sure this is a pleasant image for all of our guests and to break ground on this new (federal inspection station) is one more piece of the puzzle as we continue to enhance that guest experience,” said Ford Airport President and CEO Troy Richardson Wednesday.