The wilderness years of downtrodden Kansas City International (KCI) and its passengers could finally be coming to an end with the recent approval of a plan to rebuild its terminal for the modern age of air travel.

A meeting held Nov. 7 saw a debate followed by a vote. However, the result wasn’t even close, closing 75-25 in favor of the plans that will completely change the airport for passengers.

Locals and travelers may miss the unique horseshoe shape of KCI’s terminals arranged in the shape of a clover, however it is these very designs that have plagued the airport’s progress and passenger experience for the past 45 years. This development is something the airport needs if it is to progress and become a place of travel capable of attracting new business in the 21st century.

Opened in 1972, the terminals were designed to offer passengers a quick transit from curb to gate. Yet with new passenger screening requirements coming into force shortly afterward, and the even more rigorous upheavals that were put in place following 9/11, these supposed benefits became a sticking point that saw passengers, screening and lounges shoehorned into small spaces.

Renovations of the somewhat-drab concrete structures, and making the best of the space available, have helped KCI manage over the years, and concourse A is currently mothballed. But a new structure has been planned for many years and now looks likely to progress.

The plans will see a $1 billion H-shaped terminal built on the site of the existing horseshoe buildings, which will be demolished. It will include three concourses and 35 gates.

Natural light will play a big part in the design, replacing concrete roofs with glass across much of the structure, including floor-to-ceiling windows. The existing curb side will be incorporated to retain as much of this benefit as possible.

Having a blank canvas will allow developers to design security screening areas for modern TSA practices, as well as incorporating a much greater amount of retail and dining space that has not been possible in the present terminals; this will ultimately boost income.

One of the interesting features to appear on the artists’ impressions of the new terminal is a fountain falling two stories from ceiling to floor, much like that recently incorporated into Singapore Changi Airport.

The positive outcome of the vote follows some hard campaigning by Joe Reardon of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, who tirelessly spoke to civic groups on the need for a new terminal at the airport.

“The voters of Kansas City have sent us a very clear message again that they are excited about the direction the city is going and they want us to keep that momentum going,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James told KSHB-TV. Construction is expected to begin in 2018, with the new structure opened in 2021. In the meantime, more public consultations will be held to fine-tune the design and layout, and the city is working on its proposed method of payment, which it had previously promised not to burden the taxpayer with.

Edgemoor Real Estate and Infrastructure, the lead developer for the airport project, will be responsible for covering any costs that exceed the project’s budget.