MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis International Airport is working on some major upgrades as the airport has officially started construction on its modernization project.
In the next 30 months, airport authority said the renovated concourse will be a handshake welcoming millions of visitors to Memphis.
Wednesday marked the groundbreaking of the modernization of Concourse B.
"When you think about it, 12 million visitors to Memphis on an annual basis, many millions of those visitors arrive here by our airport, so this is the first impression that they have in our community," Kevin Kane of Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau said.
City leaders said the project positions Memphis for future growth in air service, tourism, hospitality and economic development.
No local tax revenue will be used for the project. Instead, the $214 million price tag will be covered by loans, federal and state grants, and a new $4.50 one-way passenger service fee.
"We are one of the few airports in the country that didn't have a passenger service increase, and now that our airfares have come down so far, we can finally afford to add $4.50," Memphis Airport Authority Chairman Pace Cooper said.
The new concourse will house 23 gates, accommodating six million passengers, or abut 50 percent more airport traffic.
In 2021, the result will be a redesigned concourse that will feature higher ceilings, wider corridors, a children's play area, charging stations, concessions, and retail shots.
"Hopefully we will build something amazing and more airlines and more air traffic will come," Cooper said. "We want everyone in Memphis to know that it will take a long time but it's going to be well worth the wait. When we are done in almost three years from now it's going to be a transformed airport."