Hilary Robertson / 29 September, 2015


By Lee Davidson, The Salt Lake Tribune

As more complex work takes flight on what essentially will be a new airport for Salt Lake City, officials unveiled Tuesday the final design and renderings for the $1.8 billion project scheduled for completion in 2020.

“The new Salt Lake City terminal will touch down in five short years,” Mayor Ralph Becker told a news conference. “It will be inspiring. It will be convenient to use. And this airport will set a whole new standard for sustainability” with plans aiming for it to generate as much energy as it uses.

Airport Director Maureen Riley said the project will replace three aging terminals, built 30 to 50 years ago, with one large modern building. It also will replace the current parking garage with another that will have twice as many spaces.

Airport Board Chairman Mickey Gallivan said the effort — to be completed while the airport continues normal operations — is somewhat like trying to rebuild a plane while it is flying.

“The airport terminal is going to have its cabin changed, its wings replaced, its superstructure totally replaced, along with the engines on the airplane while everything is in flight,” he said. “It will be an amazing accomplishment.”

Highlights of plans include:

• A new single, three-level terminal will be built to the west of the existing terminal complex. Departures and arrivals will use different street levels for the first time. At the terminal’s core will be a soaring, art-filled space called “The Canyon.”

“We’ll have more security checkpoints to get you through security even faster,” Becker said. “There will be many more shops, restaurants, bars and seating areas.”

• A new, 4,000-foot long linear concourse with 38 gates. All will have jetway bridges and the ability to serve different types and sizes of aircraft. The airport now has 86 gates, but 30 of those are for smaller, regional jets that do not have jetways.

Current plans for the first phase include keeping and renovating portions of the existing B, C and D concourses, bringing the total number of gates to 73. Riley said in future phases, those concourses may be demolished and replaced with another linear concourse parallel to the new one and connected to it by a tunnel.

• A new parking garage will provide about 3,600 parking spaces, twice the current number. Rental cars will be picked up there (as they are now), so visitors will not need to take a shuttle to a remote parking lot.

• A “gateway center” between the terminal building and parking garage will house rental car counters and some airline ticket counters. People will be able to drop off luggage and get their tickets in that center if they choose. There are plans to extend the TRAX line so that it arrives in that center, making transit use easier.

• In something unique to Utah, Becker explained, “We are adding a large meet-and-greet area separate from the baggage claim” to handle “these big crowds that are often in baggage claim areas to welcome home LDS missionaries.”

Riley said old terminals were designed to handle about 10 million passengers a year, but the airport now has about 22 million as a major hub for Delta Air Lines. She said building a completely new terminal allows “starting from scratch” to handle security, technology and passenger needs in the most efficient way possible — and in ways that are scenic and exciting.

Becker said it also “gives us a very rare opportunity in a way to meet today’s security needs while also lifting the passenger’s spirits with interesting design elements and public art.”

Riley said buildings will feature many views, and reflections, of mountains.

The airport is already about one year and $50 million into the project, Gallivan said, although he said many may not realize that because most early construction and utility placement has been away from high-use areas.

Riley said that is about to change, and roads around the airport will be re-routed from time to time to accommodate heavier construction.

On Thursday the “pass-through” lane in the airport garage — which some used to pick up or drop off passengers — will permanently close.

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