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$1.1B Pittsburgh Airport Overhaul Full Steam Ahead

Monday, June 10, 2019

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Plans for Pittsburgh International Airport’s $1.1 billion overhaul are moving forward with several contracts awarded and the Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO going on record to say that the region can’t afford to not do the work.

“The most practical and pragmatic thing to do is to keep what works well and start over with the rest,” said authority CEO Christina Cassotis. “There is no do-nothing” option.

Some Background

The authority announced the project, which includes a new landside terminal, new roads, and a new building for baggage and security, in September 2017.

The current facility, which cost around $900 million to construct, opened in 1992 and was built as a hub for the now-defunct US Airways. At that time, the airport saw as many as 38 million passengers a year. It has steadily decreased since then, however, and current numbers indicate right around 8 million annual passengers.

Images: Allegheny County Airport Authority

Plans for Pittsburgh International Airport’s $1.1 billion overhaul are moving forward will several contracts awarded and the Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO going on record to say that the region can’t afford to not do the work.

While the authority looked at a few different directions to update the airport—officials had been working on this for more than two years—building a new landside terminal was actually the cheapest option, according to Cassotis.

The current layout features a massive landside terminal equipped with elevators, escalators and a tram system that, nearing 30 years old, are approaching costly repairs. The tram itself (an underground train that shuttles people from landside to airside) costs $3 million a year to operate, according Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate.

The new terminal will be built in between the C and D concourses and attach to the current airside terminal, which will be updated. This will put everything basically on one level, eliminating most escalators and the tram. The “dogleg” ends of the A and B concourses will also be eliminated, leaving the number of gates open at 51, about a dozen more than what’s used today, allowing some leeway for potential growth. There is no official word on what will happen to the current landside terminal, though the authority has confirmed that it has set aside the necessary funds to demolish the structure.

The new, smaller facility is estimated to save $23 million a year in operation and maintenance costs. In addition, Cassotis said the cost per passenger would fall from an average of $12.69 to $9.73.

“It’s a win-win situation for everybody,” said Airport Authority Chairman David Minnotte at the time of the announcement. “The costs are lower for the airlines, the airport gets a new facility, that will be very efficient and modern. And, finally, this is most important for me, the people of Pittsburgh finally get an airport that is built for them, and not US Air.”

The new terminal comes with an estimated price tag of $783.8 million, in addition to the new parking garage ($258.8 million) and new roads ($57.1 million). The project will be paid for by the airlines, bonds, grants, and revenue from Marcellus shale gas drilling, parking and airport shops.

Officials estimate that more than 6,000 temporary design and construction jobs will be created, along with 4,500 “spin-off” jobs to support the purchases of supplies and services as well as spending wages earned by the workers.

Contracts

In April 2018, the authority revealed a shortlist of design contenders, which included teams from AECOM, Corgan and Michael Baker, Gensler and HDR, and Luis Vidal + Architects/CannonDesign.

The new terminal comes with an estimated price tag of $783.8 million, in addition to the new parking garage ($258.8 million) and new roads ($57.1 million). The project will be paid for by the airlines, bonds, grants, and revenue from Marcellus shale gas drilling, parking and airport shops.

In July, multiple firms ended up with the job, as Gensler (San Francisco) entered into a joint venture with HDR (Omaha) and that agreement formed an association with Luis Vidal (Madrid).

The contract with the JV is worth a reported $15 million.

Then, in April of this year, the authority awarded more than $7 million in contracts—$3.98 million to the joint venture of PJ Dick and Hunt Construction Group Inc. and $3.17 million to Turner Construction Co.—for construction management. Both are contracts for preconstruction only.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the JV will be responsible for overseeing the construction of the new $783 million landside building, roads and bridges, and the baggage handling system as well as any required utility relocations. Turner will oversee the construction of a $258.8 million parking garage of 3,000 spaces, surface lots, a new ground transportation center and rental car facilities.

Design

The design concept for the terminal modernization program was revealed in February and officials said that they pulled from “the rolling hills and rivers, neighborhoods and communities and new economic diversity that has led to Pittsburgh’s re-emergence over the past few decades.”

Based on the idea of combining nature, philosophy and community, the design features high ceilings and large windows, which will equip the facility with greenery and natural light.

“This new terminal, inspired by the beauty, tech renaissance and people of our region, will integrate seamlessly into the great design of the existing Airside Terminal,” said Cassotis.

The design concept for the terminal modernization program was revealed in February and officials said that they pulled from “the rolling hills and rivers, neighborhoods and communities and new economic diversity that has led to Pittsburgh’s re-emergence over the past few decades.”

“In considering this design, we looked at function first, then form, to construct a building that will be both iconic, practical and affordable and that can be easily adapted as the technology and transportation needs of our community change.”

While subject to change, the concept design currently includes:

  • Separate levels for departing and arriving passengers and a non-public level for building systems such as baggage belts;
  • Additional space for an expanded TSA checkpoint;
  • Shorter walking distances for arriving and departing domestic and international passengers;
  • Indoor and outdoor green plazas and gathering spaces;
  • Additional space for concessions, artwork and other amenities;
  • Planning for technological improvements and more automated systems; and
  • Emphasis on sustainability.

The next phase—schematic design—is slated to run through the summer and construction is supposed to start later this year.

The completion date is still set for 2023.

“We’re doing the project because we have to. It’s time,” Cassotis said. “We are going to prove to the airlines that a medium-sized community in the center of the country that got dehubbed and left flat on its back can, in fact, come back and offer stable and predictable airline costs in a brand-new building. That’s what we’re doing here.”

   

Tagged categories: Airports; Architecture; Contracts; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Terminals

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