San Antonio (Bexar County) — Aviation Director Jesus Saenz Jr. informed City Council this week that the San Antonio International Airport master plan, a four-year effort, has been completed and designs are underway on the first pieces of what is intended to be a $2.5 billion redevelopment and expansion effort that is projected to reach completion by 2040.
While the City Council will not official vote to accept the 2040 plan until Nov. 17, it was clear from their reaction that they are ready to fast-track the projects.
In a March 9, 2021 VBX article, the 2040 plan discussions where at the stage where three development scenarios were being considered. The Airport System Development Committee (ASDC) and other stakeholders ultimately focused their attention on Alternative 3, which was the most ambitious of the three.
Alternative 3 eliminates Terminal/Concourse B as it is known today. In its place would be a Central Processor building located between Concourse A and a new Concourse C. And the gates of Concourse B, now an extension of the Central Processor, would be aligned perpendicular to the Concourses A and C.
The “full central processor,” (as it was described) would have a grand central space with more concessions. This setup would provide the most efficient freedom of movement between concourses. It would also come with the highest Phase 1 cost and complex phasing.
In addition, Terminal A would have to be retained, with minor modifications, until the Central Processor and Concourse C are constructed. Only then would Terminal A undergo the needed major renovations.
Other major projects included in the master plan are construction of a new parking and multimodal ground transportation center; the relocation of the air control tower; the extension and other improvements to the runways; and a major realignment of the roads leading to and within the airport.
The roads realignment is needed to improve the flow of traffic by eliminating traffic signals and intersections, providing better wayfinding, increase the use of U.S. Highway 281, and by improving accommodations for public transit.
The Aviation Department, ASDC and other stakeholders relied heavily on the analysis results and designs provided by the San Antonio office of WSP USA, a leading engineering and professional services consultancy. WSP hired Art Reinhardt, a former interim deputy director of the city’s Transportation and Capital Improvements office to lead its transportation projects.
Phase 1 Terminal Development Program (Years 2021-2030) Estimated Cost Range
Terminal C — from $790M-$840M
Roadway — from $19M-$20M
Parking and Ground Transportation Center — from $65M-$70M
Enabling Projects — from $10M-$15M
Total Phase 1 cost in 2021 dollars are estimated at between $880 million to $950 million.
Saenz described the first elements of the renovations to take place in years 2022-2026 by emphasizing that there are parts of the following period, 2022-2026, that could take place sooner.
“This is a plan, none of this is etched in stone,” he said. While completion of the new Terminal C is slotted into years 2022-2026, Saenz said, “we hope to have Terminal C completed within the first five years, with up to 17 gates, with three to five international positions, a new internationals arrivals hall, the concourses will be wider and new concessions across the entire complex.”
There is already work in progress on phase one, however. The design phase is underway on for one more gate in Terminal A and two more gates in Terminal B. Construction should start in early 2022 and be completed by Fall 2022, he said. The addition of the three new gates will also require an expansion of electrical capacity.
“We have to ensure that we have the electrical capabilities to make that happen,” he said.
To the northwest on the airfield, two new air cargo warehouses will be constructed (see red boxes at far right of the 2022-2026 map).
Saenz recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the Transportation Security Administration to add two Check Point Security Systems; the innovative lanes will be in Terminals A and B and should speed up pedestrian traffic.
On the airfield, the 13-Right runway will be reinforced to increase pavement life, and other ancillary projects will take place in and around the airfield.
There will be new build-out work for concessions within the terminals. The airport recently signed a deal with Whataburger to open a restaurant in Terminal A in Spring 2022.
“The new terminal concessions, we’re constantly going to be working on that. It’s important that we continue to make additional non-aeronautical revenue and that we improve the offerings we have within the terminal complex,” Saenz said.
“Lastly we’ve already started the process to improve our overall baggage handling system. We’re doing some work on some upper controls to get that ready and we’re starting the future planning of the baggage handling system because we want the bags to reach their destination with the passengers.”
With the caveat that Terminal C may not be completed by 2026, it is expected to open no later than 2027. Other project online for this period include additional aircraft parking, a terminal roadway realignment, and consolidation of a receiving and distribution in a new facility that will service airport and concessions operations without coming into contact with travelers.
The new parking and intermodal center, located next to Terminal C, will hold approximately 1,500 vehicles. Saenz said that could also be completed in the first five years.
During this period, reconstruction will take place on the expansion and modernization of Terminal A. The design phase will begin for the Central Processor Terminal (currently Terminal B). The air traffic control tower relocation will take place and the parking garage will be expanded.
Roadway realignments will begin during this phase, and airfield safety and pavement projects will continue.
Years 2035-2040 is the period when the Central Processor Terminal is slated to open and the reconstruction of Terminal A will be completed. A new airport entrance form Loop 410 will be done. There will be an expansion of the general aviation facilities, and the airport’s fire station will be moved.
S: Virtual BX
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