SIOUX CITY -- People who haven't visited Sioux Gateway Airport's terminal for a while won't recognize the modern facility that has replaced the 1950s model.

After three years of construction, work has been completed on the $6.2 million remodeling project, Curt Miller, airport/transit/fleet director, said. The terminal building has been rebuilt from the inside out. That's because some outside walls had to be replaced when old termite damage was uncovered.

"It's a much more inviting facility." Miller said.

Daniel Kaplan, president of the airport trustees, added, "A study done for us about 10 years ago said that with care, there was maybe five years left of useful life in this building, which is near 60 years old. ... Having a modern terminal building is not going to bring additional flights into Sioux City. The only thing it will do is make travel more comfortable. And, it is certainly more energy efficient."

From an efficiency standpoint, passengers no longer will have to stand in line to wait for U.S. Transportation Security Administration agents to go through their luggage. An automatic bag screening machine scans every bag before it is loaded on a plane. At the check-through point, a private screening room is available for body searches.

A new passenger loading bridge replaces the older one at Gate 1. The new bridge can accommodate smaller aircraft so passengers don't have to trek across the tarmac.

More space is available in the general waiting area, with wireless Internet access, new flat screen televisions and new seats. New ticket counters were built in the lobby. The new security waiting room has a restroom, where there was none before.

"With the boiler systems we went from the old steam boilers to high-efficiency, hot water boilers," Miller said. "We replaced all the electrical panels and electrical services and replaced most of the plumbing."

The air conditioning and air handling system were upgraded. All exterior doors and windows were replaced with energy efficient models. The new lights, including LED ones, are energy efficient. New public restrooms were built. The baggage claim section features a baggage carousel and a gleaming south wall decorated in Italian porcelain tile with stainless steel accents and terrazzo flooring.

"The original terminal was built in 1940. The first major expansion was done in 1953, including the control tower and lots of the infrastructure in the terminal," Miller noted. "That was completed by W.A. Klinger for $470,000."

The new restaurant, Marna's Café, is named after longtime administrative assistant Marna Samuel, who has worked at the airport for 32 years.

"I feel like part of this place for half my life," Samuel said, admitting she was taken aback that the restaurant carries her name. "It is nice."

The airport, whose food is provided by the city's contractor, Distinctive Gourmet, is open for breakfast and lunch and at other times when planes are arriving or departing.

Outside, a new canopy provides protection from the elements.

As with any older building, contractors discovered problems.

"There was termite damage throughout the building that went undetected in the walls," Miller said. "A lot of the wood structures had been eaten away. There were no live termites since we had treated the building, but it was damage from previous infestations."

Contractors discovered serious drainage problems, with pooling water under the south wall. While excavating for the canopy and its footings, contractors found that the clay pipes that carried rainwater across the airfield had collapsed. The drainage problems were fixed. 

"We're pretty confident all the major issues have been taken care of, and we should have a good facility for a long time, with much lower operating costs," Miller said.

City Manager Paul Eckert added, "We now have a beautiful, brand-new, state-of-the art airport."