RICHLANDS, ONSLOW COUNTY - Travelers like Susan Peterson often flies in and out of Albert J. Ellis Airport to visit her family. She looks forward to the new terminal building that airport officials have begun designing.
"It's a quick and easy trip up here, you just get on a couple of highways and there's a back route," Peterson said. "We can go to Jacksonville if we need to pick up something."
But that demand of traveling through this smaller airport has caused a need for expansion.
The terminal "will grow from about 35,000 square feet to what we have now to 67,000 square feet," said Chris White, airport director.
White says this project is overdue, and that the airport use has especially grown in the last several years. He says the terminal was built in the 70s, and it outdated and outgrown. The new building will be two stories, and White says he hopes it will have several restaurants, more seating, more parking and more jobs. He hopes even more flights will come out of the project.
On the airport's busiest days, White says he's seen more than 1,500 travelers, making the building fairly cramped.
"We quite frequently will see several hundred meeters and greeters as we call them -- family members and so forth when they come out to meet people -- and there are several hundred people who work at the airport on top of that," White said.
White says the project will be paid for by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration and money airport officials set aside.
The current building will be torn down.
Peterson says for travelers, convenience is key -- something she says is hard to find at larger airports.
"That was always a hassle because there's traffic, rush hour -- and here, that doesn't happen," Peterson said.
Even though the new space will be bigger, it will still have that small-airport feel. The construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
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