New Orleans has signed off an a long-overdue New Years' present to itself: Construction will start next month on an $800-million replacement for the 60-year-old main terminal at Louis Armstrong International Airport.
Under the contract just signed, the terminal is to be ready to open Oct. 1, 2018, in advance of the city's tri-centennial celebrations, and to put a focus on the city's efforts to come back from the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina ten years ago.
The new terminal, which will be paid for by airport revenue bonds along with state and federal grants, will have 30 gates at a 760,500 square foot terminal and be able to handle many more passengers than the old. The project also includes a new access road, and especially a heavy-duty storm drainage system.
For passengers, there will be expanded parking, shorter walks, and, perhaps most important, in the new terminal most restaurants and stores will be inside the security area, where they will spend most of their airport time.