In a few years, UCSB students will be able travel from a larger, more comfortable airport and take their pick of an increased number of airlines.

The Santa Barbara Airport has been working on a plan to expand its existing terminal by 44,000 square feet in order to accommodate increased airline travel in the area. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2008, at a cost of $60 million. No tax dollars will be spent on the renovations, as the SBA is self-funded.

The design phase of the Airline Terminal Improvement Project is nearly completed, and the first renderings of the improved SBA terminal were released at a recent public workshop.

The plan, which is known as the Airline Terminal Improvement Project, aims to increase comfort and accessibility and increase check-in and security efficiency.

When the project was first proposed, many Santa Barbara community members expressed concern that the renovations would ruin the airport’s classic architecture and intimate feel. However, airport director Karen Ramsdell said the design includes requirements that the changes be consistent with the architecture of the existing airport.

“Architecture of the new airline terminal will be in keeping with our traditional Spanish Colonial style and will preserve the historic 1942 portion of the Terminal,” Ramsdell said. “We’re simply expanding the size of the terminal facilities, relocating a few elements and modernizing to meet increased passenger demand and security needs.”

SBA marketing director Terri Gibson said the terminal expansion is a direct response to the increase in number of airline passengers the airport has seen over the years. Roughly 890,000 passengers are projected to travel through the Santa Barbara Airport from the current year to 2010.

“The goal of the project is to accommodate current and future passenger needs, and to increase the operational efficiency of the airline terminal,” Gibson said. “Passenger traffic at SBA has grown at an average rate of two percent per year over the last 20 years.”

The Airline Terminal Improvement Project is being monitored by the Santa Barbara City Council. Aside from wanting to maintain the Spanish-style fa