HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- That last, fairly grim walk to the airplane is about to get a lot prettier at Huntsville International Airport.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday to unveil the first two glass jet bridges at gates 2A and 2B.
By May there will be seven of the bridges, designed by thyssenkrupp.
Huntsville’s airport is among the first in the U.S. and is the first in the southeast to begin installing the bridges. The $11.8 million project is being funded by an FAA grant.
The effort began a few years ago as airport officials began discussing replacing the current bridges, which were installed in 1989.
Airport officials said the plan is to install glass bridges – 12 total – at every gate by 2020.
Rick Tucker, executive director of the Port of Huntsville, said the tunnels will change the way passengers take in and depart from the city, leaving a much better final image.
“It’s more open,” Tucker said. “It’s appealing, it’s not confining, and it’s just a really good experience. Especially for those people who are a little apprehensive about flying.”
Tucker said he encountered a glass bridge getting off a flight in Europe about seven years ago. When they began discussing replacing the existing bridges, Tucker said they decided to look at both the traditional steel model and the glass.
Each glass bridge costs about $850,000.
“We bid both, Tucker said. “So that we could understand the cost differential and there is a cost differential. It’s more, but we felt like it was worth the additional cost because of all the benefits that come from it.”