Your First Look at the Modernization Project That Aims To Bring Love Field to the Big Time

Who doesn't love Love Field? Easily negotiated, convenient, it's everything that Dallas-Fort Worth International isn't. But it's always had that dingy, regional-airport feel. Said interim Aviation director Mark Duebner, "Compared to what we've been working with -- our 1950s terminal with few amenities -- this will be worth the wait."

He's talking about that $519-million modernization project, to be completed by the fall of 2014, which will feature a new 20-gate concourse and ticketing hall; an expanded curbside and roadway for passenger pickup and drop-off; triple the number of concourse vendors, all complemented by $3.2 million worth of art installations, including a recycled glass terrazzo.

We took a walking tour through the exposed ribs of the new facilities Thursday afternoon, and it looks like Dallas Love Field is shucking its cramped, regional-backwater duds for an expansive Big City makeover. DFW's about to get a run for its money.

Here's what to expect:

Winter 2012: Opening new section of Terminal 2 lobby and security checkpoint, along with the closing of the West Tunnel, which connects Terminal 2 baggage claim and Garage A.

Summer 2012: Expanding upper level of Cedar Springs Road, so plan for a bit of congestion.

Fall 2012: Opening of the new ticket hall, the relocation of Southwest ticket counters and curbside check-in, and the installation of the first three art projects.

Spring/Summer 2013: Opening of the first 12 gates in the new concourse; a new lobby and additional security checkpoint lanes; new concessions and six additional art installations.

Fall 2014: Remaining eight gates open, along with the new baggage claim hall, the final art installations and the official end of the Wright Amendment restrictions.

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Brantley Hargrove