Rendering courtesy of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
Construction on the New T1 project started November 2021 and is anticipated to be completed by late 2027 to mid-2028, according to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

Rendering courtesy of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Construction on the New T1 project started November 2021 and is anticipated to be completed by late 2027 to mid-2028, according to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

The $3.4 billion project to replace Terminal 1 at San Diego International Airport is progressing on several fronts, with construction begun and new financing in place.

In December, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority completed a bond sale totaling $1.94 billion.


The bonds carry an interest rate of 3.34%. Some $1.58 billion of the bond issue will pay for a portion of the construction project, called New T1. The Airport Authority will refinance existing debt with another $357.2 million.


The Airport Authority billed the transaction as the largest single bond sale by a California airport, and the fifth largest single airport bond sale in the United States.


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Kimberly Becker President/CEO San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

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Sabrina LoPiccolo Senior Communications Specialist San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

“The Airport Authority continues to be in a strong financial position and this bond sale reflects the market’s confidence in our ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kimberly Becker, president and CEO of the Airport Authority.


Better Passenger Experience


Construction on New T1 began in November.


The first structure to be completed will be the new administration building for Airport Authority employees in late 2023, according to a spokesperson. The current Terminal 1 will remain operational until the first phase of the New T1 is opened in mid-2025. Once Phase 1A is completed, the current Terminal 1 will be demolished and the rest of the New T1 construction will continue.

 
Management expects Phase 1B to be finished in late 2027, said spokesperson Sabrina LoPiccolo, adding that the earliest completion date for airside improvements is mid-2028.


“The number of passengers utilizing the airport will continue to grow regardless of whether we replace the current terminal,” said the senior communications specialist, but “a new terminal will provide a better experience for our passengers as numbers increase. We project that by 2035, we’ll have more than 39 million passengers arriving and departing at SAN.”


San Diego International Airport served a record 25.2 million passengers in 2019, pre-COVID. The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, with an annual operating budget of $263 million in fiscal year 2020, is the agency that manages the day-to-day operations of the airport.


Three Components


There are three different components to the New T1 project, said LoPiccolo.

 
The first is the Terminals and Roadways piece, which is being constructed by Turner-Flatiron alongside Gensler as the lead architect.

 
An Airside Improvements project, with Griffith Company as the contractor, is the second part and the new Administration Building, spearheaded by Sundt Construction, Inc., is the third. HOK is lead architect on the latter.


Construction on the New T1 started in November with some of the early work including demolition of vacated buildings and utility relocation, said LoPiccolo.

 
On the negative side, there will be some potential passenger disruptions starting Jan. 3, she said, when the Cell Phone Lot is relocated to the Terminal 2 Parking Lot.


Beginning Jan. 10, parking spaces in the Terminal 1 parking lot will be reduced to 500 to make way for more construction activities. And in February, JetBlue Airways and Allegiant Air will move their operations from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2.


On the positive end, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority estimates the new T1 project will create between 15,000 to 20,000 construction-related jobs in the region, LoPiccolo said. It will also maximize opportunities for small, local and veteran-owned businesses, she added.


Additionally, there will be a dual-level roadway and curb front to separate arriving and departing passenger traffic, with an elevated departures roadway and curbside check-in; a new, three-lane on-airport entry roadway; and a new parking plaza that will provide up to 5,200 parking spaces.

 
Inside the terminal there will be a pre- and post-security passenger connector to Terminal 2 and an expansive security checkpoint with 13 lanes, creating faster passenger throughput, said LoPiccolo.


$3.4 Billion Project Cost


The total T1 project budget is $3.4 billion and is being funded by a 10-year airline operating and lease agreement with airline partners.

 
The Airport Authority anticipates receiving more than $130 million in federal formula grants for capital improvement projects, said LoPiccolo. With the New T1, the Airport Authority is well-positioned to receive funds under the infrastructure bill’s terminal projects competitive grant program, she said, which allocates $1 billion for each of the five years to terminal projects across the country.


“This project will directly benefit from the funds being made available,” said LoPiccolo.


San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
FOUNDED: 2003
PRESIDENT/CEO: Kimberly Becker
HEADQUARTERS: Downtown
BUSINESS: Agency that manages the day-to-day operations of San Diego International Airport
OPERATING BUDGET: $263M FY 2020
EMPLOYEES: 404
WEBSITE: 
www.san.org
NOTABLE: In 2019, San Diego International Airport served a record 25.2 million passengers
CONTACT: 619-400-2400