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

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21 2012 6:00 p.m. MST

A seismic retrofit would trim between 10 percent and 15 percent off the construction cost, Riley said, but it wouldn't take into account the cost of prolonged disruption — "things that are hard to put a price tag on."

Becker said rebuilding the airport has been in the works for about 15 years. Several plans have come and gone during that time, including a $1 billion expansion proposed in 1998 and a nearly $1.5 billion reconstruction announced in 2001 — just months before 9/11.

"Over the years, we've been close to a lot of different ideas, but things have intervened — like the declining economy, the rise of oil prices, 9/11 or the impacts to the aviation industry overall," Gann said.

"There have been various times … when our airport folks have worked toward an airport renovation and reconstruction where the project moved forward and then stopped," Becker said. "We're now at the point where we have the go-ahead to do the reconstruction."

The future

Will the new airport be able to handle projected growth? Will it be expanded in the future?

Today, Salt Lake City International Airport serves nearly 21 million passengers per year.

Once the airport is rebuilt, it will be able to handle about 24 million — with room for expansion beyond that.

"Our plan is that this is the last airport we're ever going to build," Riley said. "It needs to be able to last well into the 100-year plane."

Plans for the rebuilt airport actually call for 12 fewer gates than exist today, though Gann says they'll be more efficient.

"All 74 gates will be able to accommodate all kinds of aircraft," she said. "They will be multi-use, multipurpose gates."

Airport officials also are keeping the options open for possible new technologies that could be introduced before 2015 — when the terminal is expected to be under construction.

"What we have to do is remain flexible in our design so we can accommodate and incorporate those technologies that will make sense for us," Riley said.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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