Lafayette and the Acadiana region will likely ring in the New Year with a brand new 120,000 square foot airport terminal.
Steven Picou, executive director of Lafayette Regional Airport, said the new terminal will open as soon as possible, which looks like January 1.
He took a group of government and media officials to tour the facilities on Monday, which marked the first day of partial substantial completion of the $ 150 million project. Although it is not finished, there is still some furniture to install, and the restaurant is being built, “Substantial Completion” means the contractor has 30 days to complete the final touch-ups.
When the time comes to leave the old terminal, opened in 1930 and still in operation, the move will take place overnight. Passengers on the last flight of the night will disembark at the new building, and flights will begin from there the next morning, Picou said.
The new terminal is twice the size of the one it replaces, which will be demolished as part of this expansion project. Picou said bids will be received for demolition likely in the first quarter of 2022.
The project includes five new jet bridges, roads, ramps, approximately 200 additional parking spaces and a Quick Turnaround Zone (QTA) for rental cars.
Passengers will enter the building under a colored glass canopy above its three entrances that reflects the Acadian flag fluttering in the wind. They will check in and drop off their bags at a nearby counter, behind which is an online screening system that brings the bags to the Transportation Security Administration.
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The room with state-of-the-art screening technology has room for another line of bags, a theme throughout the new terminal. There is room for more doors and even for airlines.
“This building was built with the future in mind,” Picou said. “We will be communicating with other airlines, but I want to develop and maintain the relationships with the ones we have (Delta, United and American Airlines).”
It could mean adding more flights or destinations.
The project managers also thought ahead with regards to environmental factors and potential natural disasters, using only LED lighting and purchasing a 1.25 million watt generator. The typical home runs on thousands of watts rather than millions.
There was a sense of pride among those on the tour on Monday, not only in their new beautiful surroundings, but also in the fact that the project was completed on budget.
“When it opens, it’s paid,” Picou said. “There is no debt.”
This part was particularly exciting for Nanette Cook, city councilor of Lafayette, she said, calling the sunset tax that was passed to contribute local dollars to the project “an interesting tool that we were able to use”.
“This will be another of our great gateways to Lafayette,” Cook said. “First impressions of entering a building like this say a lot about what we stand for as a city.”
The multi-million dollar project is funded with federal, state and local dollars, through a temporary 1-cent sales tax passed in 2015 to provide local matching funds for construction.
The airport also has a property tax of 1.71 million, which will be renewed for 10 years in the November 13 elections.
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The tax finances about 45% of the airport’s operations, with the remainder coming largely from flight revenues. The tax is about $ 13 per year for a $ 150,000 home with a homestead exemption, and it’s a 10-year renewal, not an increase in the tax rate. .
Samuel Pierre, a representative of the Lafayette Airport Commission, stressed the importance of renewing this tax, which will be strictly for operations, he said.
“It is imperative that we pass the renewal,” Pierre said. “We open it. Now we have to use it.”
Other notable features include a service animal relief area, two ‘mother rooms’ where women can breastfeed, extra-long bathroom cubicles to make room for carry-on luggage, and a rotunda with a. bar and wall windows in electrochromic glass. The glass will darken or brighten automatically throughout the day, Picou explained.