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Big changes on the way for Missoula International Airport - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Big changes on the way for Missoula International Airport

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MISSOULA -

The Missoula International Airport is headed for big changes as their staff is working on plans for a new terminal.

But this project is more about practicality than aesthetics.

Airport director Cris Jensen told KPAX Tuesday the changes made by the TSA following 9/11 are the biggest reason for designing a new terminal. 

"We'll have a nice new terminal that will be beautiful and will last for a very long time," Jensen said.

An estimated $42 million will be invested into the project.

It is a major overhaul for a building that hasn't changed much since it was first built in 1958. 

The large main lobby and smaller post-security space at the airport just don't suit the post-9/11 world. The new Terminal will have a larger gate area, and the majority of concessions will be after security instead of before. 

"Our building is actually more than big enough, but the area that it's big in is in the wrong place. Everything changed after 9/11," Jensen said.

It will be an inconvenience for passengers at first. The terminal will turn into a construction zone with dust walls and signage to guide customers.

But the good news for homeowners is that no tax dollars will be spent on the project. Just funding from grants and airport revenue. 

"It's one of those projects that I'm not looking forward to starting, but I can't wait to finish," Jensen said. "This will be a big undertaking for an airport our size." 

Airport staff is still deciding whether they want to remodel and expand the current building or if they want to knock it down, and start from scratch. 

Jensen says design work will start in late 2016 and last for around 18 months. After that, construction will begin, and he expects to project to be completely finished by late 2020.

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