A host of dignitaries, including Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board members, airport officials and staff, builders, elected officials and community leaders, came together for the big event.
They put ceremonial gold shovels into dirt and launch what is the biggest construction project at the gateway in more than 40 years.
The project is expected to be completed by 2017, and will expand the main terminal, move rental car operations outside of the vicinity of the terminal and create a new 1.4 mile people APM to connect the new facilities.
It will also widen an overpass over the George J Bean Parkway, eventually allowing the roadway to expand, and CEO, Joe Lopano, explains: “We’re about to transform an airport that has helped transform our community. We are so lucky to be right here, right now.”
The airport says it master plan expansion is expected to create or save 9,000 construction-related jobs and will also create more than 1,000 new permanent jobs.
The first phase of the project includes a commitment to direct $122 million (€98 million) to minority and disadvantaged businesses, which will support local businesses, while half of the 72 sub-contractors so far are from Tampa or Florida companies.
Aviation authority chairman, Robert Watkins, says that when the airport opened, the gateway served 3.4 million passengers each year, and adds within 10 years of the new terminal opening, it more than doubled to 7.1 million, while the airport now serves 17 million passengers a year.
“The expansion that we’re doing the ground-breaking for today is also intended to double capacity of this airport,” he says.
Passengers and guests will begin to see the first changes in early December as Tampa begins the expansion of the main terminal to the east.