Starting in December, Charlotte Douglas International Airport is scheduled to begin a $600 million project to rebuild and expand the terminal lobby.
The project is expected to take five and a half years, making it from start to finish one of the longest construction projects in the city.
The lobby of the airport was built in 1982, when the airport served 4 million local passengers a year. There are now 15 million local passengers.
Jack Christine, the airport’s chief operating officer, saidthat construction will last 68 months because the airport has to keep handling passengers.
For comparison, the last runway only took four years to build.
“The goal is to incrementally add capacity as we move through that five-and-a-half-year cycle,” Christine said.
The airport has prepared for a larger terminal by rebuilding the entrance and exit roadway. That has given the airport room to push out the terminal walls.
In addition to a larger lobby and ticketing area, the baggage claim will be expanded, and there will also be new security entrances. The airport is also building a translucent canopy that will cover the roadway.
In all, the size of the lobby will nearly double, from 191,000 square feet to 366,000 square feet.
“We have to build this while we still use it,” Christine said. “The project has been broken into those six phases that you saw so that we can give the contractor adequate space to work while still maintaining the operation and a certain level of customer experience while we do this project.”
The project won’t be funded from the city’s general fund. Much of the $600 million will come from passenger facility charges that are part of the price of a ticket.
Council members are scheduled to vote later this month on construction contracts for the project.