SPRUCING UP airport for the US Open

Tuesday, May 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa's preparations for the golfing world spotlight move forward. In just over a month, Tiger Woods and company visit Tulsa, and thousands will converge on Southern Hills Country Club to watch the U-S Open.

The city is sprucing up for that big week, beginning at Tulsa International Airport. KOTV's Emory Bryan says the planning for the U-S Open helped shape the schedule for improvements at the airport. Most of them aren't finished, but they will be before the first golfer tees off. The airport is about as close as Tulsa comes to having a welcome mat. Each day of the U-S Open, planes will arrive, and twelve thousand extra people will come through Tulsa International. For many, this will be their first impression of Tulsa, a newly spruced up terminal. Mary Smith with the Tulsa International Airport says "New flooring, which is done, new flight information displays throughout." Besides new screens that tell when planes are going and coming, there will be more places to sit, where people need to sit, instead of just at the gate. And the hallways will show the history of the airport. Seven hundred historic photographs will be displayed on posters throughout the airport. Smith says "All these things will be finished by the end of the month." With the deadline approaching, work is progressing much more slowly outside the building. Workers have installed supports for a canopy over the arrivals area, but it won't be done in time for the Open.

Sidewalks are just about finished, but the biggest project of all is still in progress. The airport has re-routed the exit road around a new building for rental cars and they're adding 600 parking spaces. It looks like turmoil, it's behind the original schedule because of the winter, but it there is not rain, it may be finished, in time for the flood of golf fans. New fencing and landscaping at the entrances surround it all. Smith says, "The entrances are going to be beautiful, new stone walls with signs that welcome people to the city and to the airport." These are the most significant changes at the airport since the current terminal was expanded and renovated in the 80's.

Crews are working on the outside projects 7 days a week, and without rain think they'll finish. If not, the first impression those golf fans get of Tulsa might be a construction barrel.