Salt Lake City airport expansion project gets cut of $1B in federal infrastructure funds

Travelers walk through the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Aug. 2, 2022. The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday it is granting $29 million to the airport's Concourse B expansion project, set to be complete in 2027.

Travelers walk through the Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Aug. 2, 2022. The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday it is granting $29 million to the airport's Concourse B expansion project, set to be complete in 2027. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Federal aviation officials on Monday announced they are sending $29 million to Salt Lake City International Airport as the airport plans to add 16 new gates to Concourse B in the next few years.

It is one of 99 airport terminal projects that will get funds from this year's round of the Airport Terminal Program set up by the Federal Aviation Administration via the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The bill set aside $1 billion in funds for the program every year from fiscal year 2022 through the 2026 fiscal year. No Utah airports received program funding last year.

"(The) funding doesn't just improve Salt Lake City International Airport's terminal, it creates opportunities in the community for good-paying jobs and a chance to be part of our country's thriving aviation sector," A. Bradley Mims, the agency's deputy administrator, said in a statement.

The grant will help replace aging and capacity-constrained facilities as a part of the airport's Concourse B-East expansion project, according to the federal agency. It will go toward the 16 new gates and up to five permanent hardstand positions in the expanded concourse.

The Salt Lake City Council approved the $683-million project last year. It is considered the fourth phase of the airport's construction after the first phase went online in 2020. Salt Lake City International Airport officials told KSL.com Monday the project is still on target to be completed by the end of winter 2027, with the first five gates of the project opening as early as January 2026.

Most of the project will be paid by income the airport generates from landing fees, terminal rentals and other fees paid by the airlines serving the airport, airport officials said in September.

Construction of the fourth phase should begin once the third phase of construction, which is currently underway, winds down. The third phase includes a main tunnel that connects the concourse with the main terminal, to cut down the dreaded walking distance between the two concourses when it opens in the fall of 2024. The project also sets up the first nine gates of the Concourse B-East project.

This map shows the current gates available at Salt Lake City International Airport along with the gates expected to be added by the end of 2027. The airport is slated to add 48 new gates over the next five years.
This map shows the current gates available at Salt Lake City International Airport along with the gates expected to be added by the end of 2027. The airport is slated to add 48 new gates over the next five years. (Photo: Salt Lake City International Airport)

Meanwhile, the airport is also slated to open the first new gates of the second construction phase soon. The first five gates of the Concourse A-East project are on pace to open this spring, while 17 other gates are scheduled to open by the end of this year.

Once all of the projects are complete, along with one additional gate after the fourth phase, the airport stands to double its gate capacity to 94 gates by the end of 2027.

Salt Lake City's airport growth wasn't the largest project to receive funds from the program. That honor went to Chicago O'Hare International Airport, which is receiving $50 million for a project to reconstruct the "inefficient" terminal building that was constructed there in 1980, according to the FAA.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg contends that the program — and all the projects it funds — will ultimately help make air travel more convenient and efficient by updating terminal technology and infrastructure.

"Americans deserve the best airports in the world," he said Monday. "And with demand for air travel surging back, this funding to improve the passenger experience couldn't come at a more urgent time."

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Carter Williams is a reporter who covers general news, local government, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com.

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