MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Several projects are underway at Myrtle Beach International Airport. Those projects total more than $14 million in investment, and they come prior to construction of the airport terminal expansion.
The six projects complement each other in an effort to improve the airport in many ways. The projects include a new airport fire station, drainage improvements on the airfield, security fencing, a new taxiway, and ramp rehabilitation in two areas. Ramps are the work space near the terminal where planes often park, where luggage carts are transported and where some passengers get off small airplanes in order to walk to the terminal. The asphalt of the ramps at the Myrtle Beach airport will be replaced with concrete.
Many of the projects are focused on increasing safety at the airport. For example the drainage improvements will help ensure emergency vehicles can drive to all areas of the airfield. Most passengers may not notice the projects because the improvements are changes outside of the terminal.
However, they are positively affecting the local economy by creating jobs. Combined with the expansion project, airport construction work is responsible for hundreds of jobs.
"Paychecks will be getting a little bit fatter and they will be out spending money in the local retail shops, and restaurants and grocery stores and going to the dentist and that sort of thing," explained Rick Ott with M.B. Kahn Construction. "So there's gonna be a lot of secondary impact with these dollars as they're spending in the community."
M.B. Kahn is managing the terminal expansion, and Ott also pointed out that the new terminal will allow more space for more airlines. That could result in cheaper flights and give travelers another reason to come to Myrtle Beach. In addition, more airlines would increase capacity to bring more visitors Ott said.
"About 65 percent of folks who use this airport are tourists coming in to spend money in our community," Ott said. "So the more room we can make for other airlines to come in here the more money and more folks we're going to have in here."
While some travelers have no problems with the current airport, others notice things they would like to see improved.
"It seemed a little bit dark when we first came in," Sandra Smith from Ohio said. "It was quite crowded and we did have to cross over several different groups of people, and we weren't quite sure which direction to turn."
Those are also concerns for people who support the airport expansion. The new terminal is expected to provide more room for travelers and make navigating the airport easier.
"If Myrtle Beach is a tourist attraction who wants to attract more tourists, [the airport] definitely can do some refurbishments," commented traveler Janice Quek.
Airport spokesperson Lauren Morris said the new terminal will be more inviting to tourists. It will also make their experience in Myrtle Beach more appealing she said.
"For many people, this is the first thing they're going to see when they come to Myrtle Beach, and we wanted it to be reflective of the type of community that we are," Morris said.