Major expansion at Birmingham's airport coming

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A major expansion is on the way for the Birmingham/Shuttlesworth International Airport.

FOX6 News has confirmed the announcement Monday will include plans to upgrade the existing terminal area, redo the security checkpoints, add a federal inspections and customs area, and add on another concourse.

"I've seen LaGuardia, JFK, Newark so far, and I believe some expansion, some new facilities, some more modern things would make Birmingham more like a first-tier city," said frequent flyer Rodrigo Flores.

Frequent fliers like Flores said the airport is in need of upgrades, especially if Birmingham is serious about increasing its convention and tourism business.

"You're talking about heavy traffic issues and things of that nature that could be quite congested out there, and the thing of it is you have to grow with the times," "We still have the problems with security being slow, taking your shoes off and things like that," Flores said. "If they could speed that up, that would be better." The expansion project's goal is not only to speed up the traveling experience, but also bring more modern touches to waiting areas---an area out-of-town travelers say they pay a lot of attention to when forming their impression of a city.

"If there's a layover or your plane gets delayed---sure, it makes a big difference," said Mary Ann McDonough, flying home to Philadelphia. "Because it can make it a pleasant experience or a frustrating experience, especially around holidays."

The project doesn't have a final pricetag yet, but the airport authority plans to extend its lease with the city by 9 years this week to allow it to sell at least $150 million worth of bonds to help pay for the project. No word on a timeline for beginning the work, but it could be more than a year before it gets started. Drawings of what the expansion will look like will be unveiled at a press conference Monday.