Holiday Travelers Will Notice Major BNA Projects

Posted at 3:16 PM, Dec 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-18 20:05:46-05

As thousands rush to Nashville International Airport for the holidays, travelers will notice some added dust at BNA.

Traffic Anchor Rebecca Schleicher spent Monday morning surveying the construction that is part of the first phase of an entire airport renovation, along with airport staff.

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It's construction you will come into contact with during your holiday travel through the airport. There are new traffic patterns around the airport and construction both inside concourse A and outside at the new 6-story parking garage and transportation center.

When everyone is trying to get out of town anything can happen. Just ask Denver mom Susie Wargin.

"I looked around and I thought its really dark in here!" she laughed, recalling when she and her family walked into the Atlanta airport Sunday afternoon,"there were no display boards going, no ticket counters going."

The fire in Atlanta sent the Wargin family driving to Nashville Monday to get a flight home.

"They couldn't get us out of Atlanta for a few days. And our kids have finals back in Colorado so we couldn't keep missing school and missing school."

Airports don't close for fires. They don't close for the holidays. And in Nashville, BNA will not close during the largest renovation in the airport's 30 year history.

"There's lots of challenges ahead," said BNA Chief Engineer Traci Holton, "especially with the major changes were going to have."

The changes will happen while the airport continues to function, serving around 14 million passengers this year.

The BNA Vision plan calls for a new terminal building, more parking, 12 more gates, more than double the security lines, eventually an entire international building, an on-site hotel and room for a future light rail stop.

Holton says it's a huge undertaking, but one she's excited to lead.

"I love the construction. This is what engineers live for," she laughed.

"If we don't do anything and just sit on our hands, the roadways are going to be congested, there will be long lines, it's not going to be a good customer experience," said airport spokesperson Shannon Sumrall.

The last four years have been record-breaking for the number of passengers served in Nashville, she said. And the airport expects to see 20 million passengers by the time the project is finished in 2023. That's a 40 percent increase from this year.

So this holiday season passengers should plan ahead, ensuring nothing puts the brakes on holiday travel.

"Here we are three hours before our flight and hopefully the power stays on and were good to go," Wargin said, about to head through the security line to head home.

The airport expects the biggest travel days to be Friday and Saturday. Staff recommend travellers arrive two hours before your flight.