By Michele Sobel
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)-– Major changes are coming to Charleston International Airport. The 27-year old terminal will get a major makeover under a $150 million dollar renovation and expansion plan.
What will it mean for you? The first change you will notice is a centralized security checkpoint, to get you through the security gates more quickly.
"When it was designed, TSA didn't exist, so it's just really time to redo, add more restrooms, spiff up the place like you would your home," said Airport spokesman Becky Beaman. "We'll have a centralized security area whereas right now we have [security area] A and B."
As part of the expansion, Beaman said the airport will add six more gates, with the capacity of handling more airplanes and passenger traffic.
She also said the majority of food vendors would be moved behind the security checkpoint.
"Studies have shown that everyone wants to get through security and get through the gates first," Beaman said. "They might think about stopping and eating and shopping, the trend in airport development is to have concessions on the air side. But we will still have some shops and concessions on the land side, it will just be a smaller version."
Details of the design plan are still being worked out, but the general design concept is set.
One aspect that could change is the plan for the open atrium.
Representative Chip Limehouse said for an airport that handles traffic of 2.5 million people every year, it's time for a facelift.
"It's served its purposes well. It's a great airport; it probably could go a few more years from a structural standpoint but from an aesthetic standpoint it's time to modernize," Limehouse said.
The $150 construction project will be lead by Dallas-based Austin Commercial LP and North Charleston-based construction company, Hitt Contracting, Inc.
Work is expected to begin later this year.