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Phoenix Council Approves Nearly $1 Billion Sky Harbor Airport Projects

Sky Harbor Airport
Christina Estes/KJZZ
file | staff
Sky Harbor reports more than 120,000 passengers arrive and depart on a typical day.

Get ready for more construction at Sky Harbor International Airport. On Tuesday, the city council approved the airport spending $950 million to extend the Sky Train and build a new concourse at Terminal Four.

On an average day, 20,000 passengers catch shuttles to the airport’s car rental facility. On peak days, the wait to catch a shuttle can get ugly, according to Aviation Director Jim Bennett. He told council members it’ll only get worse if nothing is done.

“By 2021, every day is going to be like a peak day in 2015,” he said. “And, we’re going to be challenged at providing good customer service.”

Bennett successfully pitched a two mile extension of the Sky Train so that it will reach the car rental facility. He said the airport intends to fund the $700 million dollar project using charges paid by passengers and businesses that use the airport. Planning is expected to begin later this year with construction starting in 2017, testing to begin in 2020 and the extension scheduled to open by late 2021.

The second project, a new concourse at Terminal Four called S-1, is estimated to cost $250 million and expected to be paid for using airport funds, including bonds. Bennett said the concourse could possibly provide up to eight new gates.

He told council members that today’s aircrafts on average are 29 feet longer, 25 feet wider and seat between 50 and 75 more passengers than when Terminal Four opened in 1990.

Planning for the new concourse should begin later this year with construction scheduled to start in 2018 and gates expected to open by early 2021.

The Aviation Department estimates the construction projects will generate $11 million in taxes and create hundreds of jobs.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.