The state has finished widening Loyola Drive between Interstate 10 and Veterans Memorial Boulevard and adding lanes in both directions, a key link to street-level access to the long-awaited North Terminal coming to Louis Armstrong International Airport.

Loyola will connect to a newly constructed, but not yet opened, access road across Veterans at Aberdeen that will take vehicles into the northern end of the airport property when the new terminal opens this fall.

051519 Loyola Vets Airport roadways

Progress of roadway revamping for access to the new airport

The $6.8 million project is scheduled to open Wednesday, the target date for launching the terminal before officials delayed it last month.

State Department of Transportation and Development officials said the $6.8 million road project, which began in January 2018, will help accommodate the anticipated spike in traffic to the new terminal.

Even with it, getting to the airport will likely cause traffic headaches until so-called flyovers — like the ones at I-10 at Williams Boulevard — are opened, which will not be until at least 2023.

DOTD said it will select one of three proposed designs for the flyovers and have the project under contract by August.

"I am very proud of the team of employees at DOTD, and our private sector partners, for completing this critical improvement by the date we promised," DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson said in a statement.

The project includes a double left turn from Veterans Boulevard onto Aberdeen Street that will give direct access to the airport. The inside left turn lane will be closed to through traffic once the terminal opens. 

The $1.3 billion terminal, which will replace the airport's existing terminal, has been delayed several times.

No single issue was responsible for the latest delay, Aviation Director Kevin Dolliole said. Instead, the opening had to be put off because of the domino effect of making changes to accommodate the concessionaires and government tenants that will be housed in the terminal, he said.


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Plans to build the new terminal were approved in 2013, and the project was initially supposed to wrap up by May 2018, just in time for former Mayor Mitch Landrieu to cut the ribbon before leaving office. But that date was already delayed three previous times, most recently to provide additional time to build a new sewage pipe for the terminal.

The project's cost has also ballooned from $650 million to almost $1.3 billion, in part because the original estimate did not include the cost of roadwork needed to access the terminal. The latest delay is not expected to mean a significant increase in the total cost. 


Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.