Monday, May 11, 2009

New Airport Terminal

Key West "International" Airport has a new departure terminal up and running, after innumerable delays and cost overruns:

Very spic and span it is too, and so it should be for a terminal that was supposed to cost $25 million and ended up costing Monroe County $40 million. The new terminal was supposed to be named for the McCoy family but the county commissioner so named was voted out of office in the last round of elections and there have been rumblings of discontent over his time in office, so the naming of the terminal has been delayed, perhaps terminally...On the approach to the airport the new terminal is now the departure building, up the ramp which collapsed during construction. That piece of the shoddy contract killed a Guatemalan worker Carlos Humberto Cifuentes Saenz and more than one caller to the Citizens Voice suggested the terminal be named for him. No luck on that one.The new terminal is a massive expanse of cement with a splendid view of the control tower:The upstairs parking lot, most convenient to the terminal is for employees whose vehicles sit in the roasting sun. I'd rather park in the shade downstairs while I was inside working. In the distance the East Martello Tower:The employees at the airport I spoke to before the new terminal was built were looking forward to it as a relief from the cramped quarters in the musty old airport building. However for some people, the more intrepid travelers not afraid to go through security checks outdoors, the old building was rather more welcoming to the Conch Republic. It serves as the arrivals building:And there is still room to sit outdoors to wait for transport:The main parking area is underneath the terminal, more massive expanses of concrete:Whence one takes the stairs, or rides the (currently) operational elevator to the sterile Anywhere USA departure area upstairs:The $40 million dollar contract apparently didn't include signage or trash cans according to an article in the paper so the county had to pony up for those too, at the last minute as they only noticed when the place had been opened. One can only be delighted the former county administrator and his sidekicks on the commission are all history. The cost did include outdoor fans which rotate at public expense at all hours apparently:The iconic Conch Flyer bar and restaurant had to be moved from its crusty old location overlooking the runway and now it occupies a vast spacious area upstairs at the departure terminal. Not exactly the retreat it once was:It's a nice clean terminal with solar filtering glass showing off that concrete acreage:And travelers now get to walk through a tube impervious to weather to get to their planes, though they will still have to go outdoors to get on the plane itself:I got on the Bonneville and took a spin, up one side, down the other, a tip of the hat to the late Carlos Saenz as I went:And at the bottom of the ramp a left turn leads to South Roosevelt and the Straits of Florida beyond it:And ninety miles beyond that as we know so well, lies Cuba, all of a thirty minute flight from here.