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Flying out of the Twin Cities soon? Read this

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL -- The days of driving to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, only to discover en route that its two terminals are on entirely separate roadways with no signs to tell you which terminal your airline uses, are about to end.

Weather permitting, construction crews will begin installing new highway signs tonight identifying which airlines fly from which MSP terminal, giving drivers the information they need to choose the correct terminal and highway exit for their flight.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission estimates that between 20,000 and 30,000 people each year go to the wrong MSP terminal, often missing their flight as a result. Over the next two weeks, more than 40 signs will be added or replaced along approaches to the airport on Interstate 494, Highway 5, Highway 62 and 34th Avenue to address what had become a significant customer service issue.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International is the only major airport with terminals located on entirely separate roadway systems. The Lindbergh Terminal is accessed from Highway 5; the Humphrey Terminal is located off 34th Avenue, which is most often reached by exiting from Interstate 494.

In the past, highway regulations prevented installation of signs listing airline names by terminal due to concerns over the amount of information the signs needed to convey. Last year, however, the Metropolitan Airports Commission gained approval from state and federal highway officials after agreeing to split the airline names among three separate signs and to identify the terminals by number rather than by historic names. On the new signs, the Lindbergh Terminal will be identified only as Terminal 1 and the Humphrey Terminal as Terminal 2. Officially, the terminals will retain their historic names, however, and be designated elsewhere as Terminal 1-Lindbergh and Terminal 2-Humphrey.

"For years, frustrated travelers have asked us to address this chronic way-finding problem, and we are very pleased that, working with highway officials, we are finally able to do so," said Jeff Hamiel, executive director of the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

Due to a favorable bidding environment, the price tag for the much needed project is $1.4 million -- about $800,000 less than estimated. The Metropolitan Airports Commission will use its own funds - not state or federal tax dollars - to pay for the improvements.