Salt Lake City airport expansion cost climbs to $3.6B
- Salt Lake City International Airport officials said the facility's redesign is still on budget and on target for a 2020 completion, according to the Deseret News, albeit at a price tag of $3.6 billion, which is double of the original cost estimate.
- The project includes new north and south terminals – to open in 2020 and 2024, respectively – that officials said will deliver efficiencies in airport operations and will allow for significant gate expansion in the future. Also part of the project is a ground-level Utah Transit Authority TRAX station featuring a design that will save the project $60 million. Once the work is completed, all other airport buildings will be demolished, leaving what officials said will be the "only truly new 21st-century airport in the U.S."
- Project officials said 65% of contracts are now guaranteed. Bill Wyatt, executive director of Salt Lake City's Department of Airports, said that if there are additional costs, they will be related to design or other requests for which others, like the airlines, will pay for.
In November 2016 when the airport announced that costs had risen from $2.6 billion to $2.9 billion, the reason given was that labor and material prices had gone up since the original estimate, thanks to a local building boom. Before that, the airport had decided to add an additional $740 million concourse, increasing the total from $1.86 billion to $2.6 billion.
While airport officials have said that potential future cost increases at Salt Lake City International would be paid for by others, the steel (25%) and aluminum (10%) tariffs recently set by President Donald Trump could have an impact on its budget, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. An airport spokesperson told The Tribune that it is possible material costs for the project could increase as a result but that it was too early to tell because specifics regarding the presider's plan had not yet been released.
In fact, the costs of any construction project that require aluminum or steel could increase if contractors haven't already locked in pre-tariff-announcement prices. Still, the prospect of higher material prices has not stopped major airport projects from moving forward.
Chicago officials are planning an $8.5 billion expansion of O'Hare International Airport that will see the demolition and replacement of an older terminal with a more modern one. The new terminal will be able to accommodate international air traffic, and all the planned improvements and renovations will increase the airport's size by 3 million square feet. City officials are reportedly close to coming to an agreement on expansion details with the airlines that serve O'Hare, despite objections from American Airlines about how additional gates will be allocated.
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter