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Everything you wanted to know about the Salt Lake City International Airport expansion

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21 2012 6:24 p.m. MST

Delta Air Lines, which accounts for 73 percent of the flights at the airport, has agreed to the increase, as has Southwest, Gann said.

The airport also is counting on $238 million in grants through the FAA's Airport Improvement Program and other one-time funding.

That doesn't mean airfares won't increase, Riley said. But that could happen even if the airport isn't rebuilt.

The biggest components in airlines' costs are labor and fuel, she said. The cost to operate in an airport generally represents between 5 percent and 7 percent of an airline's expenses.

"While we are a part of their cost, we're a nominal part," Riley said. "It's much more likely that airfares would be influenced by an increase in the price of jet fuel."

Construction

How long will construction last? Will it make trips to the airport miserable?

Maintaining the airport's easy-to-navigate reputation has been a top priority in the redevelopment plans, city and airport officials said.

"One of our key goals is it has to remain customer-friendly," Riley said.

Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2013, following a year of environmental assessment, planning, public outreach and design. Completion is tentatively slated for 2022.

The project is proposed to be "phased and staged in a way that we can operate efficiently without impacting customer service to a large degree," Gann said.

A big reason for that, she said, is that much of the new airport will be built on existing open space.

Plans call for a construction of a new terminal, with concourses on the east and west sides, and a new parking garage to the south.

The new terminal is proposed to be built just west of the existing parking garage, which will allow crews to complete and open that building, along with the west concourse, before tearing down any existing buildings.

The new parking garage also would be completed before the existing structure is razed.

"There will places where we will need to strategically impact the customers," Gann said. "It's been planned out in a way so that impact will be minimized."

A few headaches for travelers could arise from the staged opening of the east concourse, where officials plan to open gates on the south side while still constructing gates to the north.

Temporary roadways also will be needed to accommodate the new construction, meaning motorists will need to pay attention to signs indicating changing routes.

"The idea is to phase this in a way that there will be no disruption of operations at the airport," Becker said. "That's part of the reason it will take so long."

Timing

Why does the airport need to be rebuilt? And why does it need to happen now?

Airport officials have been in discussions with their main tenant, Delta Air Lines, for several years about the future of the airport.

In recent years, those talks have centered on two options: renovate or rebuild.

"At the end of that analysis, everyone agreed we should build new," Riley said.

The driving force being the rebuild is safety. All buildings at the airport currently are at seismic risk because of their age and location, Gann said.

A seismic retrofit for the airport, Riley said, "would have been almost unmanageable."

"It would have added many, many years to the project," she explained. "It would have had to be implemented in very small increments, so we would have been under renovation for years and years just to get through that."

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