SAN ANTONIO --
San Antonio International Airport officials expect their newest expansion project will be ready for take-off by November.
Under construction since July 2008, Terminal B is quickly taking shape. Wednesday afternoon, city leaders got a progress report and a sneak peak during a walking tour.
"This was the first time I got a chance to walk through Terminal B and it looks great," said Mayor Julian Castro. "What you're going to find in the coming years is a bigger, better San Antonio International Airport."
Terminal B will replace the outdated Terminal 2, which is due to be demolished once the new terminal comes on line. Castro said that should happen just in time for the busy holiday travel season.
"Terminal B will be up and running by Thanksgiving of 2010, so it's going to be fantastic for the city," Castro said. "Hopefully that will cut down on the wait time for folks leaving and coming in."
The airport expansion project is designed to make life easier for passengers. Parking has been expanded to 9,000 spots and a new bi-level roadway should make picking up and dropping off travelers a much simpler process.
"We've already completed 95 percent of the bi-level roadway system that runs in front of both terminals," said airport director Frank Miller, who added that the roadway should be finished by April.
Inside the new terminal passengers will find more room for ticketing and security screening.
"We'll have four lanes screening passengers in the new terminal and a part of that is a larger cuing area," Miller said.
Airport designers have also developed a new baggage handling system that will allow travelers to avoid handing their bags off to Transportation Security Administration officers.
Right now, passengers must check their bags with their airline then walk their luggage over to the TSA officers who send the bags through several large screening devices. A new, fully automated baggage screening facility behind the terminal will take care of the screenings, saving travelers valuable time.
"It's just as it used to be prior to 9-11," Miller said. "You walk in, go to the ticket counter, check in with the airline, hand them your bag and you're done."
Once inside the eight-gate departure area, passengers will find several new restaurants and shops.
While the new terminal is more spacious, it will not necessarily add more capacity to the airport because it will have the same number of gates currently housed in Terminal 2. A Terminal C was originally planned to be built after the old Terminal 2 building is demolished. The recession and its impact on the airline industry has forced the City to put those plans on hold until 2015.
"The Terminal B that we're creating now is enough for the demand that we have now and that we're going to have for the next five years," Castro said.
For more information, check out these Web links: - http://www.esdinteractive.com/AirportWebcam/index2.php - http://www.sanantonio.gov/Aviation/construction.asp
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Integrated design seamlessly blends security functions into a natural traffic flow at Terminal D.
By mid-March the airline will start charging $2 per bag to check travelers outside the terminal.
The TSA opened its first "PreCheck" lane at Mineta for passengers who had been approved beforehand by their airlines and cleared by the federal agency.