by Photo Courtesy of the San Diego International Airport

Airplanes rip through the sky as the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, along with federal, state and city officials hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Dec.13 for the new Terminal 1(T1) at the San Diego International Airport.

Construction of the new terminal began Nov.1 and is expected to create 15,000 to 20,000 construction related jobs in the span of five years under a project labor agreement. The airport has an economic impact of $12 billion on the region. 

“It is not just about building the city. It's about building the middle class, the heart and soul. That project labor agreement is going to make sure it's going to be built right, on time, and that we are going to do our part to building the health of our community with jobs where people can afford to send their kids to college, afford to buy a home and continue to pay for their kids after they get out of college,” Chair of the San Diego County board of supervisors Nathan Fletcher said. 

Through the Airport Authority’s Small Business Development Program, T1 is set to maximize opportunities for small, local, veteran-owned small businesses, and disadvantaged business enterprises. The subcontract value distribution goals of 25 percent to small businesses enterprises, 80 percent to local businesses, and three percent to veteran-owned small businesses.

“I’m proud of the Airport Authority team and their unwavering commitment to bring San Diego a new Terminal 1. The airport is often the first and last impression we get to make as a city, and I can assure you the New T1 will be something that the region can be proud of,”Gil Cabrera, Airport Authority Board Chair said.  

The San Diego International Airport is expected to receive more than $130 million in formula grants for capital improvement.
President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill last month that will deliver funds for aging infrastructure. Of those funds, $20 billion will be allocated to airports nationwide in ensuring safe travel and improving connectivity. 

Additionally, the bill contains a terminal projects competitive grant program which will allocate $1 billion for each of the next 5 years for terminal projects across the country. According to Congressman Scott Peters, the Airport Authority is in a “good position” to compete for additional federal funding since the T1 project runs for the duration of the grant program.

“Airports connect us. They connect our economy, they take you to see your family, they take you on vacation, they bring your kids home from college, granted you still have to pay that ticket,” Fletcher said. "They are a part of who we are as a community. This is another tremendous step forward in San Diego to help connect us." 

The New T1 is set to improve the airlift, transportation connectivity to the airport, and a new facility for the Airport Authority administration. It will feature pre-and post-security passenger connectors to Terminal 2, a new parking plaza that will provide up to 5,200 parking spaces, an expansive security checkpoint with 13 lanes and several amenities. Six artists have been commissioned to create integrated, site-specific public art for The New T1 and the façade is being designed by renowned artist James Carpenter.

The new terminal will feature a three-lane on-airport access roadway that will take traffic from Laurel Street directly to the airport, reducing 45,000 vehicles a day on Harbor Drive, preserved spaces for a future transit station and other infrastructure to improve traffic flow. 

The new terminal includes three components leading to it's completion. An Administration Building is anticipated to open in 2023 delivered by Sundt Construction, Inc. with HOK as the lead architect. The Terminal & Roadways will be completed in phases within a design-build project by joint-venture Turner Flatiron with Gensler as lead architect. The first phase including 19 gates, an elevated departure roadway, outdoor check-in pavilions a dedicated, on-airport arrivals roadway, and a five-story parking plaza is anticipate to open by mid-2025. The Airside Improvements component, delivered by Griffith Company, will allow for more efficient aircraft movement and ground traffic flow by mid-2028.

“The experience our customers have on the ground is just as important as the experience we give them in the air. That is why Delta is investing over 12 billion dollars in accelerating airport projects just like these. We believe airports of the future should be easy and comfortable as a part of a seamlessly and effortlessly connected journey. We are grateful to our partners in San Diego,” Senior Workplace Architect at Delta Airlines Robert Byers said.

Implementation of energy and water conservation and clear air initiatives will be included throughout the project's infrastructure with electric vehicle charging, a bicycle and pedestrian path on Harbor Drive, bicycle parking spaces, airfield improvements, a storm water capture and reuse system and more. The airport aims to be powered by 100 percent renewable, carbon-free electricity. Through these efforts, the Airport Authority strives to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification for the project.

“This is a region that is moving forward. We are making massive investments in the future infrastructure to make sure we are a great community," San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said. "We are moving on all fronts and are putting thousands of San Diegans to work, and we are showing the world what this city can do. I cannot be prouder. I thank the Regional Airport Authority for being a partner and making sure we move this community forward."

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