Plane Site

Lindbergh Field Expansion
Cost: $1 billion ($865 million for the project; $135 million in financing)
Construction start date: 2009
Target completion date: 2013
Passengers served in 2010: Almost 17 million
Expected passengers by 2030: 27-33 million
Estimated jobs created by construction: about 1,000
Gates at new terminal: 10
Runways before construction: 1
Runways after construction: 1
Terminal improvements: dual-level roadway to relieve traffic congestion; curbside kiosks that allow passengers to print boarding passes, check baggage and view gate information; additional aircraft parking; shops and restaurants
-Source: San Diego Airport Authority

By Pat Sherman
Photos By Brevin Blach

After more than a decade of wrangling over what should be done to ease congestion at the 661-acre San Diego International Airport-including transferring operations to a new facility in Miramar, East County or South Bay-the public voted to retain the current location on Harbor Drive. Construction on a new terminal and related infrastructure upgrades began in 2009 and is slated for completion by mid-2013.

The project, which San Diego Airport Authority (SDAA) officials refer to as the "Green Build," incorporates sustainable design elements geared toward obtaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. During the initial development phase, the SDAA first had to spend $45 million to clean up a municipal waste landfill that operated on the site from 1950-1971 as part of the Naval Training Center (NTC) San Diego.

Despite many people's concern about the breathtakingly narrow margin between arriving aircraft and the tops of downtown buildings, the airport was deemed the seventh safest in the nation this year by Travel + Leisure magazine.

"We really don't have any safety issues," says SDAA vice-president of development, Bryan Enarson. "This expansion will continue to provide us with a safe operation. We'll have more aircraft (space) and more aircraft parking positions, giving the Federal Aviation Administration the ability to maneuver airplanes more easily and efficiently."

The new terminal will be a commonuse facility, allowing for more efficient use of its gates.

"The airlines won't have their proprietary equipment," Enarson says. "We'll provide the computer systems that link up with their computer systems. It gives us the flexibility to move airlines from day to day. You won't end up with an airline at one a gate with only two or three flights; you can put multiple airlines on a gate."

What's more, new check-in kiosks will provide a time-saving alternative to waiting in line at the ticket counter.

"It's just a way for us to be able to process passengers quicker and make the facility more flexible," Enarson says.

If we could start checking that first bag for free again... now that would be some real progress.

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