MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) Officials at Missoula International Airport said a $4.2 million addition to the terminal would open in mid-April as part of a five-year improvement package.
Departing passengers will be routed through the addition on the terminal’s west end. Arriving passengers will continue to pass through a checkpoint that opens into a recently expanded “meet-and-greet” area.
The addition added 18,000 sq. ft. (1,672 sq m) to the original terminal’s 102,000 sq. ft. (9,476 sq m).
The airport’s director, Cris Jensen, said the new passenger screening area will help smooth the flow of foot traffic through the entire, six-gate airport.
The new area designed by Van Sant Group of Colorado features high ceilings and skylights, with an architectural concept meant as a memorial to the prehistoric Lake Missoula. It once covered 3,000 sq. mi., then disappeared with the Ice Age.
“Some people in geological circles feel that Glacial Lake Missoula was one of the most significant events in history, and we wanted to elevate public awareness in the airport terminal,” architect Terry Van Sant said.
Jensen said the terminal expansion is the first phase of what will eventually be a new terminal. He envisions the addition one day serving as the center of the airport, after another wing of gates is added.
The airport improvements spanning five years cost approximately $38 million altogether.
Eight remodeling projects were completed during the past year. Plans for 2007 include construction of a $9 million control tower. A $5 million runway repaving is scheduled for completion later this year.
The projects are necessary to accommodate growing use of the airport, Jensen said. More than half a million passengers used it last year, and the number is projected to almost double by 2015. Passenger traffic increased approximately 3 percent in 2006.