Take An Up-Close Look at Airport’s Construction Progress

Media tour signature connector bridge, more as work is 60% complete

By Rocco Pacell

Published February 29, 2024

Read Time: 4 mins


Pittsburgh got a closer look at its new airport today, heralding yet another milestone on the road to completion of the region’s most visible construction project.

Local media were invited to tour the progress made on the airport’s modernization program, a $1.57 billion construction project that has eclipsed the 60% completion mark.

Their visit centered on the unique bridge and tunnel experience – inspired by Pittsburgh’s Fort Pitt Tunnel and bridge experience – linking the new terminal to airside concessions, amenities and gates. A functional element such as this reflects the architectural philosophy guiding the new airport’s design.

“What you are going to experience here is part of our NaTeCo — Nature, Technology and Community — experience,” Paul Hoback, Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer, said.

Hoback focused on the new terminal’s improved passenger experience including cutting the time from curb to gate in half, a vastly expanded security checkpoint with more lanes – including one dedicated for families – faster baggage delivery times, additional covered parking with technology guiding patrons to the nearest open space, and airfield observation areas among other upgrades. The new terminal will also feature a more seamless international arrivals process.

“What you’re going to experience here is really new,” Hoback said.

Also present was Jeff Turconi, executive vice president at construction management partner PJ Dick, who said the impact the airport modernization has had on the regional construction industry has been massive – creating direct and indirect jobs throughout the region.

“The legacy that jobs like this create… There’s a lot of other things happening that are very important to our industry, and this project is providing them,” he said.

“Someday, when [people who work for our company] walk through this airport, they’ll say, ‘My company helped build this airport,’ and that’s important to build the culture of a company and to help that company grow.”

The project is an economic dynamo for Western Pennsylvania, generating a total of approximately 14,300 direct and indirect jobs and $2.5 billion in economic impact. No local or state tax dollars are being used to fund the new airport’s modernization, and about 90 percent of the materials and services needed for it have been locally sourced.

As part of the day’s update, members of the media walked through the new terminal, on its front roadway and eventually to the connector bridge itself. Passengers will travel from the new PIT terminal through the connector bridge, which opens to reveal a modernized center core atrium with new concessions to be added.

“This is the moment where you actually walk out and the entire airside core opens up,” said Hoback. “This is just going to be one incredible experience for the passenger.”

Media takes a tour of the connector bridge at PIT’s new terminal. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

More project goals are being met daily as construction enters its peak phase in preparation for the new airport’s opening in 2025, an exact date to be determined.

“We’re going to control our own destiny. We’re going to make sure all of our people are trained – the buildings tested, commissioned and everything is ready for opening day,” Hoback said.

A first test of the state-of-the-art baggage handling system was recently conducted. This system will improve the passenger experience by significantly reducing baggage wait times. Final placement of the new terminal’s glass, a featured design element, is also expected to occur within weeks.

“There is a lot of work still left to do,” Hoback said. “This is a new airport that is going to transform the industry, transform our region and truly be that front-door entrance that the people of Pittsburgh deserve.”

Building a smarter airport

Airlines at PIT have unanimously supported the new terminal program. The project is funded mostly through long-term bonds that the ACAA will pay back from its operating revenue, most of which is paid by the airlines through rates and charges.

No local or state tax dollars are being used to pay for the project, which has been awarded $28.8 million in federal grants under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law includes funding for national critical infrastructure, such as airports. 

The new terminal was designed with the passenger experience in mind, prioritizing modern, efficient infrastructure. The new airport will employ state-of-the-art technology and an innovative design intended to make the airport experience easier for travelers. A rolling roof design, prominent tree columns and outdoor terraces will bring Western Pennsylvania’s natural beauty to the airport.

Built as a hub for US Airways 32 years ago, the current terminal was built at a time when 80 percent of the total passengers were connecting and 20 percent were travelers heading to or from Pittsburgh. Today, 95 percent of the total passengers are heading to and from Pittsburgh and 5 percent are connecting.

With a current facility built for those connecting passengers, the current terminal has a cramped main checkpoint, eight miles of baggage belts, and insufficient parking with costly operations and maintenance.

The new terminal is now 60 percent complete and on track to open in 2025. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

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