It cost 4.5 million dollars and a lot of people think it was worth it. With renovations complete at East Texas Regional Airport there was only one thing left to do: cut the ribbon.
But before the cutting, there was quite a crowd hanging out in the lobby waiting for that moment, including Airport Director Roy Miller.
“We’d like to see that many every day,” Miller said.
Business has picked up because of earlier and later flights, and the remodeling has made waiting a better experience with snacks and restrooms in the secure area, which now seats 100 more people.
“You know you’re flying in an aluminum tube for three hours, it’s nice to not be confined when you’re leaving home,” Miller said.
They put a lot of thought into the work.
“Measure twice and cut once,” Miller stated.
It was built in 1947 and had a remodel in the 80s, but it was time to make it modern and improve the flow of people to and away from the aircraft.
“We’ve seen the gradual changes but I’ve had the opportunity to talk to folks that were here when we began the construction and haven’t really been back and they said it’s like night and day,” Miller said.
When you’re that close to something it’s hard to see the changes. The unsecured waiting area looks pretty similar, except when they pulled up the carpet they found a terrazzo floor with an inlaid East Texas Map. They kept that.
From another angle, a wall is gone and the room is wider. If you turn around more walls have come down. From the tarmac, the difference is obvious, and no more walking outside to the plane because of the jet bridge.
The American Eagle counter is now security and the exit. The Eagle counter has been moved up the hall, and awnings out front keep the weather away while loading and unloading.
And back at the ribbon cutting, before Roy Miller, Judge Bill Stoudt, Neal McCoy and others spoke, the lobby was empty and finished, ready to be used.
One thing hasn’t changed: Airport parking is still free.