Tampa International Airport officially broke ground Tuesday on the second phase of its Master Plan expansion, including 16 new express curbsides tailored to passengers without checked luggage.
“This groundbreaking and this phase of the Master Plan is all about innovation and preparing for the future,” said Airport CEO Joe Lopano, speaking to a crowd who gathered for the celebration. “We are seeing what is coming at us, and we’re being proactive in preparing for the future.”
Curbsides nationwide have become more congested as air travel continues to increase along with the popularity of ridesharing.
Tampa International Airport is taking the issue head-on with innovative new express curbsides that will make the airport more efficient by allowing guests to bypass the ticketing level or baggage claim areas via a new vertical circulation building. The 16 new lanes include eight on the blue side and eight on the red side.
Departing guests will take an escalator or elevator straight to the transfer level, then hop on a shuttle to the airsides. Those without a boarding pass will be able to print one out along the way at conveniently located kiosks. Arriving travelers will be able to quickly access ground transportation without interacting with baggage claim activity.
The blue side curbsides are scheduled to be done in 2022. The red side curbs, which will begin once the airport’s current administration building is demolished, are scheduled for completion in 2024.
“This new curbside project is part of an expansion plan that will allow this airport to serve 34 million passengers every year – and that matters,” said HCAA Chairman Robert Watkins. “As this community – and state – continues to prosper and grow, this airport must also continue to grow to serve it.”
Contractor Hensel Phelps will build the new curbsides while HNTB is responsible for the design. Both firms noted how unique the project is at an airport in their remarks on Tuesday morning.
“Tampa International Airport is being recognized internationally for its thought leadership and innovation associated with the curbsides,” said HNTB Senior Vice President Len Becker. “These will further enhance the customer experience while improving operations and preparing for a new airside.
“We’re going to take this structure that exists today and turn it into one of the most innovative curbsides in the United States,” said Kirk Hazen, VP and District Manager for Hensel Phelps.
The airport’s Phase 2 Master Plan projects also includes a state-of-the-art Central Utility Plant that will help the airport run more efficiently and sustainably, a concessions loading dock, and the demolition of the airport’s old administration building. Also part of Phase 2 is the SkyCenter development area. This 35-acre site located near the Rental Car Center will be home to a new nine story office building, hotel, and new retail space. The area will also feature a connection to Tampa Bay’s regional trail system.
The third and final phase of TPA’s expansion calls for the construction of a new Airside D.
Executive Vice President of Facilities Al Illustrato said it has taken a tremendous team effort to get to this point in TPA’s ambitious three-phase expansion.
“Running a world-class airport while making world-class improvements is no easy feat and it takes total buy-in throughout the organization,” said he said. “From Day 1, our team has lived and breathed the mantra ‘We are an airport first’ and that passenger experience is paramount.”
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