San Diego's small, overworked international airport is getting a major upgrade.
The upgrade includes a billion dollars worth of new terminal space, gates and other features designed to make air travel more convenient and comfortable for twice the number of passengers who now use Lindbergh Field.
For now, while it's "pardon our dust, our traffic snarls and parking detours", airport officials promise that when the project finished in 2013, it'll be well worth all the hassles.
With the volume of air travelers fast outgrowing Terminal 2, which opened in 1999, the operators of Lindbergh Field are looking to add 10 passenger gates -- for a total of 55 at the airport -- and house them in a new facility that's 21st century, in both form and function.
"It's going to be an enormous central area, given to retail, more performance and art spaces," airport spokesman Steven Shultz said in an interview Thursday.
"It's a very dramatic space being planned for that area and we feel very excited about that," Shultz added. "So what we'd really like to do with this airport is open up San Diego for the arriving passenger."
The builders say their rubble and rerouting of traffic will soon be forgotten, once passengers arrive and depart on streamlined dual traffic levels.
And, get acquainted with a terminal that's long on modern amenities and amazing architecture.
At curbside Thursday, passengers expressed eager anticipation.
"You put up with the pain to get to a final result," said Poway resident Patrice Hunt, after her arrival on a flight from Montana. "But we've definitely needed a better airport and we've been limited with the space."
"It's progress; we need more space here," said El Cajon resident Clay Cox as he headed for a flight to Minneapolis. "We need a bigger runway -- that's the biggest thing this needs. But gates are a good start."
The project is called 'Green Build' because of its environmentally friendly construction engineering and operating systems.
The billion-dollar cost will be bankrolled by airport user fees, revenue bonds, federal aviation grants and concession fees.
Target date for opening: about two years from now.