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Salt Lake City International Airport

Major upgrade planned for Utah's gateway to the world.

After more than a decade of delays, Salt Lake City International Airport is finally going to get its long awaited $1.8 billion reconstruction.

Expected to take at least ten years to complete, the major facelift will see parts of the airport completely demolished and new buildings and concourses constructed, in an attempt to bring the gateway up to date with the city.

In his fifth State of the City Address, Salt Lake Mayor, Ralph Becker, said: “I am pleased to announce that after more than a decade of discussion and aborted plans, the Salt Lake City International Airport will begin a massive reconstruction.

“The Salt Lake City International Airport was not built to be a hub. Today as the number of passengers has increased annually to over 21 million, it is by all measures a large hub airport – and it must be redeveloped to meet the needs of our region.” 

Becker said that the revamp was an opportunity to make not only some “huge improvements” to the airport but also “to really improve the experience for people who use the airport”.

New energy efficient buildings will replace some 50-year old structures and “address seismic risks”, the light rail system will be expanded, and new efficient gates and terminals will be built to accommodate larger aircraft.

The Mayor said that there would essentially be a complete overhaul of everything at the airport with the exception of the runways. HOK will be lead architect on the project.

Delta Air Lines, which accounts for roughly 75% of flights at the airport, also has committed funding to the renovation, as have other airlines operating at the airport.

According to current plans, the airport would feature just one terminal and 12 fewer gates than it does today. However, all 74 gates will be able to accommodate all sizes of aircraft, each with bridges to the respective planes, eliminating the need for outdoor staircases.

Becker added that the $1.8 billion needed for the project would be paid for by passenger fees and not by taxpayers’ money and although there was bound to be some inconvenience, airport service would not be disrupted during construction.

Becker said: “This is not just reconstruction of one terminal or a single concourse.

“This is a monumental undertaking – with an estimated price tag of $1.8 billion and a potential 8 to 10-year timeline – that will place no additional burden on Salt Lake City taxpayers.”

The design process will start later this year and the plan is to break ground on the project next year, he added.

Meanwhile, the airport redevelopment will incorporate environmental approaches like the re-use of water, photovoltaic power sources, built-in design solar elements, recycled materials, and a number of other sustainable elements.

Becker said: “We can start, literally, from the ground up to build an airport that promotes efficiency, service and design without impacting our air quality and health.”

The airport said that funding for the project would be split in the following way:

  29% - Airport cash ($631m) 

  25% - Passenger Facility Charge (PFC)-backed General Airport Revenue Bonds (GARBS) ($557m)

  16% - PFC revenue ($350m)

  14% - GARBS ($302m)

  11% - Federal grants ($238m)

  5% - Rental Car facility charges ($120m)

The schematic design for the new gateway will begin in June this year, and an issue of Request For Proposals (RFPs) for programme consultants is likely to take place in July.

Construction of the Rental Car facility will start in 2013 and the first work on the terminal is due to commence in 2015.

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