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      MYR terminal expansion groundbreaking held

      Photo Credit: Angie Dones

      This time, it'll really happen. That's what Myrtle Beach and Horry County officials were saying Monday at the groundbreaking for a new airport terminal.

      They've broken ground for expansion of Myrtle Beach International once before, in 2004, only to see the deal fall apart. But officials say this airport expansion will work out, because all parties agree on which side of the runway to build it on.

      On May 5, 2004, Myrtle Beach City and Horry County leaders toasted a new agreement on a $185 million airport expansion. That terminal - on the west side of the runway - never happened, after it was rejected by the Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board.

      This latest airport project is slimmed down, has a new construction manager, and Horry County Council Chairman Liz Gilland says most importantly, "Myrtle Beach wanted it on the east side. So we have chosen to put it on the east side."

      Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes says an east side location makes sense because it's more accessible. And a big part of that will be the simultaneous expansion of the road to the airport.

      "Harrelson Boulevard is very important for our citizens of Myrtle Beach to be able to get from 17 Business to 17 Bypass, but also it's going to be easy for people who are staying on the south side to get to the airport," said Mayor Rhodes.

      The new terminal was budgeted at $130 million, but cost savings will bring it down to $117 million.

      It'll add five new gates, many more parking spaces and around 219,000 additional square feet of terminal space, which is a vast expansion of the current building.

      "It is terribly congested in there. We don't have enough room to park the airliners that would like to be in here. And so the new terminal will eliminate a lot of the congestion," said Rick Ott with MB Kahn Construction.

      And this time, no one can think of anything that can stop it.

      "I guess some sort of national event, but I don't foresee that happening," said Ott.

      City and county officials say this market has recently attracted new airlines like Allegiant and Porter, and they expect more to express an interest when the new terminal is complete.

      Construction of the new terminal and remodeling of the old one is scheduled to be complete in 2013.