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With the new Springfield-Branson National Airport terminal opening in just a few weeks, construction workers are pushing hard to have everything ready by the time the first flight arrives. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner jumped in her car and drove to the new terminal for a personal tour of the almost finished facility.
When I arrived at the blue and green glass plated terminal, airport spokesperson Kent Boyd was waiting outside to walk me through the new building.
The new terminal smelled like fresh paint and is well lit due to all the windows on the sides and ceiling.
Boyd says the first room travelers will walk into is what airport officials call the “great hall.”“It’s about 27 feet from the floor to the bottom of those girders at the ceiling level. On the right are ticket counters. There are four ticket counters all together and the customer would walk in, check in and then go straight back out the gray hall into security and out to the concourse,” Boyd said.
On the left side of the “great hall” are the conveyor belts for baggage claim and booths to rent cars.
The room is separated by a stone and glass waterfall fountain.
Boyd says the entire terminal is based on how the Ozarks look.
“When the architects designed the building they had in mind trying to echo the nature of the Ozarks. So, as you go through the building you’ll see water represented, you’ll see rock, limestone and you’ll see and you’ll see trees. If you look at the ceiling, it has this wavy mesh partisan, which represents water. Tiles on the wall as you stand back it’s an abstract vision of what the limestone bluffs in the Ozarks look like,” Boyd said.
Also, the carpet throughout the terminal looks like water, gravel or grass.
The terminal is split into two different hallways: the right side is for passengers getting on a plane and the left is for travelers coming back to Springfield.
Through the right hallway is a retail store called “Route 66” and then travelers move into security checkpoints.
Boyd says right now, there aren’t any security devices in the terminal, but they will be installed before opening day.
He says this terminal is much safer than the old terminal.
“This building, being designed after 9/11, is designed with security in mind. The building was actually designed structurally that it could withstand bomb blasts. Not a pleasant thing to think about, but something we were required to do. It has large amounts of space for security both upstairs for passenger screening and downstairs for check bags. That whole process will be much quicker and more efficient. Hopefully, it will cut down the wait times in lines,” Boyd said.
Once through security, passengers can go to the newsstand or just sit and wait for their plane.
There are 10 gates, but up to14 planes can be parked at the same time.
Boyd says there is enough room to add more gates as Springfield grows.
On the other side of the concourse, is the hallway for people coming back to Springfield.
Once passengers are past the glass doors, they are no longer on the secure side.
Boyd says there’s an area where friends and family can wait for passengers to arrive.
“We have this public observation lounge, which is something we sorely needed at the old place. One of the big complaints we got at the old terminal was after 9/11 there wasn’t any place you could go in the building that the public could go in the building where they could actually see an airplane. Well, in this building they’ll be able to come to this lounge and look right out onto the ramp and assuming there’s an airplane there, parked, they’ll be able to see it,” Boyd said.
Boyd says they have been testing many of the airport features to make sure they are ready for opening day.
He says there are a few things that won’t be finished, like the restaurant.“There will be a restaurant in the area we are approaching here, a McAlister’s. It is not going to be ready when we open on May 6th. The kitchen won’t be done. Not to worry though, because on May 6th and until the kitchen is open the restaurant will have pre-packaged food and drinks available. So, there will be food and drink it just won’t be hot,” Boyd said.
Past the restaurant is a hallway that leads back out to the main lobby of the terminal.
Boyd says the new terminal doesn’t mean Springfield will have more flights, but it is a possibility.
Boyd ended the tour warning that passengers should arrive early for their flights on May 6th to avoid any confusion in the new terminal.
Airport officials are having a dedication ceremony for the new terminal this Friday at 6:15.
Also, the new terminal will be open to the public April 25th from 1-5 for anyone who wants to look around or ask questions.
For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.