$2.7B Newark Airport terminal opens

Dive Brief:

  • After a series of delays, the $2.7 billion Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey opened on Jan. 12 with 21 new gates, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. That’s welcome news for travelers who use Newark Airport, which consistently ranks as one of the worst in the U.S.
  • The redevelopment includes a million-square-foot terminal, eight bridges, a parking facility and 140 acres of airfield paving. The remaining 12 gates will be finished later in 2023, and Port Authority officials also plan to replace its aging AirTrain.
  • The new Terminal A was designed and built by a Tutor Perini/Parsons joint venture, according to NJ Transit, and the team worked in stages to reduce disturbance to passengers. The upgrades are part of a larger $25 billion overhaul of the region’s Newark, Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.

Dive Insight:

“This is what $2.7 billion will get ya,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole joked during a recent event celebrating the opening of the new Terminal A. But the investment is no laughing matter: The Port Authority said in the release the project represents its single largest infrastructure expenditure for New Jersey ever.

The Board of Commissioners for New Jersey and New York approved funding for Terminal A in their $32 billion 2017-2026 Capital Plan, which targeted a partial opening by the end 2020 and a full launch by 2022.

Terminal A broke ground in 2017, but pandemic and supply chain-related issues pushed work back in 2020. Construction finally started in September 2021, but the project saw more delays, most recently in December 2022 after Port Authority officials said the fire and safety system had yet to pass inspection, according to NJBIZ. 

Rendering of airy architecture at the entrance and check-in area of airport.

<p>Entrance and check-in area at the new Terminal A.</p> <p>Courtesy of Newark Liberty International Airport</p>

Terminal A first opened in 1973 and handled 9 million passengers annually, while the new design can accommodate more than 13 million people each year. American Airlines, JetBlue, Air Canada and United Airlines will use the 21 new gates now open, while Delta Airlines is expected to use the new terminal when the remaining 12 gates are ready for use, according to a press release.

Per Port Authority plans, Terminal A features a slew of sustainable upgrades, including: 

  • Water efficient fixtures that are expected to reduce potable water demand by 45%.
  • A “cool roof” and light colored pavements that reduce the heat gain on the building and the heat island effect on the surrounding environment.
  • The ability to withstand a 100-year flood plus projected future sea level rise.

Transit officials are hoping that their big investment will pay off for the tri-state area. Newark Liberty Airport already receives millions of passengers each year and served more than 46 million people in 2019 alone. By revamping the aging facility, Terminal A is projected to create more than $4.6 billion in regional economic activity as well as more than 2,500 jobs, according to the Port Authority’s release.

Aerial view of a concessions area with shops and red and yellow chairs around red tables, with gates in the background.

<p>Concessions and shops near the new gates.</p> <p>Courtesy of Newark Liberty International Airport</p>

AirTrain project delayed but moving

Also on deck for Newark Airport is a $2 billion effort to replace the AirTrain Network system, which “is reaching the end of its useful life,” according to the Port Authority. The current monorail carries about 26,000 passengers each day and connects them to the terminals, parking, rental car facilities and Northeast Corridor Rail Link Station. 

In December, the Port Authority announced a Request for Qualifications to replace the aging system, which first opened to the public in 1996, with a new 2.5-mile elevated train. The agency did not respond to Construction Dive’s request for comment about the project. 

Construction was originally supposed to start in 2022 but plans were delayed because of financial pressure from the pandemic and bids from contractors that came in higher than anticipated. Proposal bids for parts of the project have been extended to February.

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