On runway: $3.1 billion air terminal remake
There’s strong consensus in the Miami-Dade Aviation Department that the airport’s Central Terminal needs re-development to bring it into parity with the new North and South terminals, given that parts have remained unchanged since its construction 50 years ago.
The Central Terminal has been the most neglected section of Miami International Airport, said Aviation Planning Division Director José A. Ramos. “It’s old and tired with maintenance costs compounding,” he said.
Mr. Ramos said multiple studies over the years stress the terminal – which encompasses concourses E, E-Satellite, F and G – must be brought in line with the modern and efficient facilities the North and South terminals now provide to accommodate the airport’s ever-growing use.
Based on discussions with the airlines about their needs, he said his department plans to begin construction in 2020 with an expected completion in 2032, providing it is financially viable and does not interrupt the smooth operation of the airport.
In fact, Mr. Ramos said, one of the biggest challenges of the project is precise phasing of the work so that there is no interruption in operational flow. “The Central Terminal is the heart of the airport with a lot of infrastructure and many things going through it,” he said.
“We will apply lessons learned from work done on the North and South terminals,” he said. “We are looking to shut down sections at a time and build from scratch.”
The plan now is sequencing with 13 phases, with the entire project expected to last about 12 years, if undertaken sequentially and without interruption, Mr. Ramos said.
“The airlines and our department recommend a ‘south to north’ implementation and phasing plan due to the greater aircraft gate capacity and least impacts to operations that it offers during the overall sequencing,” Mr. Ramos said. “This implementation phasing also helps in replacing the oldest Central Terminal facilities, such as Concourse G, early in the redevelopment program.”
The overall estimated construction cost of the future Central Terminal (excluding other terminal improvements such as concessions and replacing the hotel in Concourse E) is $3.1 billion. That’s the estimate based on 2012 dollars, Mr. Ramos said, and it’s highly likely to change five years from now.
“Right now we intend to fund the Central Terminal project with a mix of federal and state grants, passenger facilities charges and bond funds,” he said. “A phased approach allows us to assess affordability and need before beginning each phase. If there are impediments to continuing (such as economic changes and unforeseen occurrences uncovered during construction) the project will be paused until conditions change.”
He said the redevelopment objectives of the Central Terminal Program are to improve airside aircraft circulation conditions, including dual taxilane systems and new large aircraft taxiing capability (coming and going of aircraft); increase aircraft gate capabilities for accommodating a growing modern jumbo fleet such as the newer Boeing B787 or Airbus A350; offer terminal-wide (domestic/international) swing gate capability (a circulation core that works for both domestic and international passengers); provide unsecure, secure (post-security checkpoints) and sterile (international arrivals) connectivity between the North, Central and South terminals for a unified terminal; improve taxiway compatibility of Taxiway P for new large aircraft such as the A380-800; and create a multi-phase terminal concept that includes possible stopping points during its construction (so that work done to date is usable, even if work has to halt due to an unforeseen impediment).
It’s five years before construction is expected to start so, moving forward, the aviation department will be doing further studies and gathering more details, Mr. Ramos said.
“Right now, we have a basic programming document that lays out the concept,” he said. “As the project is further refined during subsequent design phases, additional phasing milestones will be identified. It is always our intent to reduce impacts to operations as much as possible.”