Lafayette Regional Airport is moving forward with plans for an expansion.
Thursday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new terminal with a greater sense of why it’s so important.
The groundbreaking of the new Lafayette terminal brings excitement for economic growth.
Officials also say air travelers will be seeing some relief soon when it comes to long lines at the airport.
“You cannot be a major city if your airport is not a major airport,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy while at the ceremony.
The new terminal, set to be completed in about two years, will be about double the size of the one today.
“We’ve outgrown the current terminal, and TSA is one of those issues where we don’t really have much room for expansion. We can’t bring in a new security checkpoint line. The current facility is pre-9/11, so it’s very limited on what it can and can’t do,” said Airport Director Steven Picou.
Recently, TSA lines can take up to an hour and a half in the mornings.
Picou has been working closely with Congressman Clay Higgins to find a better solution.
“I fly out of Lafayette almost weekly. I fly back from D.C. every weekend, so I’m on the 6 a.m. Delta flight, and it was never a problem until all of a sudden, you have long lines, and folks are missing their flights. I’ve almost missed my flight,” said Higgins.
He said the reason this happened is because one extra flight changed to the same schedule as the others.
Even Gov. John Bel Edwards joked he had a few people coming up to him saying something needs to be done.
“I’ve been in Lafayette all day, and I’ve had two people tell me that there is a real need for more TSA workers at this airport,” said the governor during the groundbreaking.
The long-term solution will be the new terminal with up to three security checkpoint lines.
The short-term solution is better managing the lines, getting more screening machines and TSA employees. Although this can take up to six months because of the process with multiple agencies, Higgins says he hopes line management can make the flow of people smoother and can be done a lot faster.
“This is our front door to our community,” said Picou. “People make big decisions in reference to the airport: How do they feel in the airport? Is it hospitable? Is it workable? And, they make assertions on the community based on the front door, so we will serve as the front door.”
This will be a pretty expensive front door, costing about $90 million.
Nearly $34 million of that is coming from the sales tax that Lafayette voters passed in 2014 that lasted about eight months.