SLC International Airport seeks input on $2 billion redesign

Posted at 8:34 PM, May 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-11 00:23:32-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The airport authority is asking for input from travelers as it gets set to launch a massive construction project, building an entirely new international airport.

The new Salt Lake City International Airport will be built on top of the existing airport. It's a project that will take nearly a decade to complete and cost about $2 billion.

"It's a huge project and it will impact the way we operate in a way that's not been seen before," airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann said Friday.

Construction will begin on the new airport in Spring 2014. The current Salt Lake City International Airport has been remodeled and redesigned over the past 30 years to deal with a steady increase in travelers. In 2012, more than 20 million people traveled in and out of the airport.

"We're an aging facility," Gann told FOX 13. "We've done so much here and we put Band-Aids on things for a very long time. We're running out of Band-Aids."

Plans put forward by the airport authority call for a complete overhaul. The U-shaped concourses will be demolished in favor of a more linear pattern. The airport's three terminals will be wiped out in favor of a single, three-story terminal that is 700,000 square feet in size. Entire floors of that new terminal will be dedicated to arriving and departing traffic.

Delta Air Lines, who operates a hub in Salt Lake City, accounts for 74 percent of the air traffic. The airport became a hub after Delta merged with Western Airlines in 1987.

"This airport was not designed to be a hub airport. It became one and the facilities were then fit to work that way. The same thing is true of the security system that we have in place now," Gann said.

After the 9/11 terror attacks, Salt Lake City airport officials frowned upon large crowds gathering to welcome home Mormon missionaries, largely because of security and terminal traffic issues. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends thousands of young men and women out into the world each year for proselytizing and service missions -- a large percentage fly in and out of Salt Lake City International Airport.

Gann said the new design would include an area for reunions.

"One of the goals we have is to make something that's an iconic meeting point and a flair and a feel for this state," she said.

Among a large crowd welcoming an LDS missionary home on Friday, Tom and Sherrel Geilmann said they welcomed the idea.

"I think it's going to be wonderful and well received by the community," said Tom Geilmann. "I think it would be a nice add on here, and bring lot of joy."

"We came home from a mission and would have loved a receiving area like that," his wife Sherrel added.

Airport officials were quick to point out that taxes are not expected to pay for the massive construction project. Funding is coming from other sources, including airport fees, Gann said.

The airport authority said it would like to hear from travelers and Utahns about what they would like to see in the new Salt Lake City International Airport. Information on how to comment can be found here.