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VIDEO: Construction Moving Quickly On Pittsburgh Airport's $1.5B Terminal Project

Tue October 24, 2023 - Northeast Edition #23
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Work on the new $1.57 billion landside terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport is making big strides.

Allegheny Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Oct. 16 that all of the steel for the terminal project has now been erected. The massive project includes construction of an 811,000-sq.-ft. passenger facility, a 5,000-space parking garage and a connector bridge to link the new landside terminal with the airside terminal.

"It is moving fast," she said. "It's so much more impressive than I originally imagined."

Airport officials and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, along with reporters, toured the facility recently, including driving up the 1,200-ft. bridge that, when completed, will lead passengers into the new terminal.

The three floors of the terminal have been constructed, including the giant, tree-like columns that support the roof. The roof itself is being built to resemble the rolling hills that surround the airport west of the city and to let in more natural light. Glass windows have been placed on parts of the backside of the terminal, and the floors for future outdoor terraces have been set.

Fitzgerald touted the work completed on the terminal and said the new terminal will make Pittsburgh more competitive in getting additional flights and more nonstop destinations.

"This is something we are going to be proud of for a long time," he said.

Cassotis told the Tribune-Review that the facility is scheduled to open in March 2025.

When asked why the project's cost recently increased by 12 percent to its current $1.57 billion, Cassotis attributed the rise to bids for some components of the project coming in over budget. She added they were approved by the authority's board.

Fitzgerald said that no local or state tax dollars are being used to fund the project, which is being paid for by fees from the airlines, partly from the airport authority's revenue, and $20 million from the federal government.

New Terminal to Be Much Closer

The Pittsburgh news source learned from airport officials that the main difference between the new and old landside terminals is proximity to the airside terminal.

When work is complete, the new terminal will be adjacent to the airside terminal, which officials said will make transport from ticketing through security and to the gates both faster and easier. The automated tram that now carries passengers from security to the gates will no longer be used.

During the recent tour of the construction project, the current landside terminal was clearly in view about a half-mile west of the job site.

A short connector bridge designed to be an homage to the Fort Pitt Tunnel will connect the airside and landside terminals. The top level of the bridge is taking shape, and as Fitzgerald walked across its span, he joked that passengers would have to "get their steps" somewhere else, because the new terminal will significantly decrease walking distances.

Airport officials also noted that the length of time for security and baggage claim checks should speed up once the new terminal is complete. It will have room for up to 11 security checkpoints, double the current number, and include a family checkpoint. In addition, bags no longer will need to be transported on trucks between the landside and airside terminals.

The new terminal's design will allow more natural light and the structure will catch rainwater to irrigate outdoor terraces that are accessible to passengers and those waiting to pick up friends and family.

"Access to fresh air on both the landside and airside terminals is pretty rare at U.S. airports," Cassotis explained.

The new terminal is planned to encompass three main floors.

Departure ramps, ticketing and security gates will be on the top floor, with the middle floor slated to house the arrival ramps and baggage claim. The vast majority of the bottom floor will be home to operations such as baggage handling and security technology, but the front section of the first floor will be for ground transportation, including taxis, rideshares, rental car stands, public transit and a walkway to the new parking garage.

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