Major changes to the way drivers get in and around Myrtle Beach International Airport kicked in Thursday with few glitches, officials said.
Drivers quickly adjusted to the airport’s new entrance at Jetport Road and maneuvered through the construction maze outside the terminal, with the help of signs and flaggers at key points in the new traffic pattern, which for the first time takes drivers past the new terminal that is still under construction.
The entrance, off Harrelson Boulevard across from Whispering Pines Golf Course, is one of the major first steps toward wrapping up the $118 million expansion and moving into the new terminal, which is expected to start operating fully Feb. 19.
The former entrance, off Harrelson Boulevard across from Highway 15, won’t be blocked off, but should only be used by permitted employees and for deliveries, officials said.
The changes kicked in at 5 a.m. Thursday. In addition to the new entrance and traffic shifts by the terminal, a new 40-space “inspection/cellphone lot” has opened by the new entrance where drivers can wait to pick up arriving passengers. Drivers are no longer allowed to wait by the curb in front of the terminal; that will be for brief drop-offs and pick-ups only.
On Thursday morning, crews shifted some signs to make them more visible to drivers.
“They are tweaking things here and there, trying to make it perfect,” said Kirk Lovell, the airport’s marketing director.
Construction to expand the terminal is entering its final few months, with the new rental car building opening next month, a bit later than expected.
The expansion will add a 240,000-square-foot terminal and the number of gates will grow from seven to 13, with the ability to expand to 18 gates.
Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.