MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Fly into the future for a moment. The year is 2025, when the county estimates nearly 46 million passengers will move through Miami International Airport on a yearly basis. This huge passenger number is the reason the airport needs to make sure it's ready for the future.
While the North and South Terminals are new and modern, parts of the Central Terminal date back more than 30 years.
Miami-Dade's Aviation Director Emilio Gonzalez said he's in the process of putting together a plan.
"Well we're preparing to build the terminal of tomorrow today," he told CBS4's Brian Andrews. "You just don't do this overnight. We'll be taking down three concourses and putting up 2 new ones."
Those new concourses will eventually rise in the space now occupied by Terminals E, F, and G, which are home to some American Airlines flights and numerous international carriers.
The new concourses will have swing gates that can handle both domestic and international flights and more space the county can monetize.
"We're looking at creating an airport that has the feel of an exclusive, high end mall," said Gonzales.
Planning for the terminal of tomorrow, which is expected to begin construction after 2020, is happening because jetliners are getting bigger.
"We don't know what these aircraft are going to look like 15 to 20 years from now. So we have to make sure our gates are as flexible as possible."
The new central terminal will have space for a people mover on its roof and will allow arriving passengers to reach their connecting flights without having to exit and re-enter the secure area as they do now.
It will be an expensive terminal," explained Gonzalez. "We're going to look at state and federal grants, we're going to look at passenger finance charges. We're going to look at our own bonds."
As the planning moves forward, there is also talk the iconic main terminal office tower and MIA Hotel could fade into history in a decade's time.
"This particular hotel was built in 1959," said Gonzalez. "We'll have to make a decision whether we close it down, gut it, and resurrect it as a new modern hotel, or just close it down period, and turn it into office space or just bring it down altogether."
The Airport Director said he expects the first set of plans and renderings for the Central Terminal to undergo many more changes through the years.
"Of course, the County Commission will need to sign off on what will be done. There's a long way to go, but there's no time like now to begin thinking about the future," said Gonzalez. "This is going to be a multi-billion dollar project."
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