Mayor Mitch Landrieu, members of the New Orleans City Council and Aviation Board and leaders from surrounding parishes gathered at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport Jan. 16 to announce the "conceptual design" of a new terminal at the airport's north end.
The $828 million construction project will create 13,000 jobs, according to materials handed out by the mayor's office, and is scheduled to be completed in May 2018 — not so coincidentally the date of New Orleans' tricentennial celebration, and the last days of Landrieu's second term as mayor (if he wins re-election this year). Landrieu called the airport a "catalytic project" and compared its impact on the metro area to the construction of the Superdome in 1975. Funding for the airport consists of bonds, federal grants and Aviation Board Capital Funds.
"Loyola Avenue's going to be completely changed with a new interchange off the freeway," Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni told Gambit. "It's going to totally change the face of Kenner." The existing southern terminal off Airline Highway will not be demolished, but will convert to cargo and other uses, Yenni said.
"We just won the Super Bowl of airports," City Council President Jackie Clarkson said.
The new terminal is planned to be 650,000 square feet, consisting of two concourses with 30 gates and a new 2,000-space parking facility. In addition to a new flyover off Interstate 10, plans for the development include a $72 million power plant and $17 million for a new airport hotel. District D Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, chairwoman of the council's airport board, pledged her support for local business and DBEs (disadvantaged business enterprises) during the construction and opening phases.
The design — presented at the news conference in both photo renderings and a short animated film — showed a graceful terminal shaped like two back-to-back boomerangs, with plenty of glass windows and a sweeping entrance for dropping off passengers. It was designed by architect Cesar Pelli, who in his youth collaborated with Eero Saarinen, architect of the then-futuristic 1960s TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
"The future is now boarding," said Landrieu — a slogan emblazoned on press materials and luggage tags handed out to attendees — though there was no word on when groundbreaking would begin. — Kevin Allman