At 5 a.m. on September 15th, 2020, the early morning silence was broken by the sound of cheers and jet engines. This was the day of the grand opening of the brand new, $4.1 billion Salt Lake City International Airport. This marks a new chapter of travel for those coming and going to the Salt Lake Area.
After patiently waiting 3,163 days, everyone can now enjoy the new airport. Due to COVID-19 and the reduction of the passenger numbers flowing through the airport, about two years were saved in the construction process. On top of saving time, they were able to save an estimated $300 million. Additionally, Salt Lake City did not use any local tax dollars on the reconstruction project. This new rendition of the airport comes with many upgraded amenities and new perks travelers can enjoy.
A top priority for the construction of the airport was to capture Utah’s beauty and put it on display. When you first see the airport you can instantly see the attention to detail. The new terminal has native Utah plants in the landscaping, distinct colors to represent Utah inside and out, and added giant glass windows in the terminals for stunning views of the mountain backdrop of Salt Lake City. On top of that, there is a new art piece called The Canyon, a football field-sized art piece that shows Utah’s diverse topography and natural beauty.
The terminal hosts all-new dining and shopping experiences. When combined with some old favorites, you will find 58 total dining and shopping locations. The airport is lined with well-respected brands such as Shake Shack, Hip & Humble, LEGO, Uinta Brewing and so much more. While there are a lot of new additions, there are some familiar favorites like Cafe Rio, Squatters Pub, and XpresSpa. Whether you are running late and just need a snack and a magazine, or you have some time to unwind with a glass of wine and enjoy the shops, the new airport has checked the boxes.
Utah is a hub for those who love the outdoors, and most bring a lot of gear wherever they go. Luckily for them, the baggage claim system has been given a major upgrade. The new belts have been built wider to accommodate all of your oversized goods such as skis, snowboards, and golf clubs. This means that all of your luggage will now arrive on the same carousel. Seven miles of conveyor belts were built to transport bags across multiple checkpoints across the airport. With belts from the baggage claim to the parking garage, there’s no need to even carry or wheel your luggage.
Speaking of the parking garage, this one is all-new and much more advanced than you may expect. This state of the art parking garage features a camera-based sensor system that uses lighting to show the location of empty parking spots. On top of that, it doubled the old parking structures capacity with 3,600 spots. Pedestrian bridges take you from the parking lot to the terminal. Now, The flow of traffic should be much smoother.
This new airport was designed with efficiency in mind. The airport has received a gold star certification from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The certification ensures that the building was built using energy-saving, water-efficient, and CO2 emission reduction strategies. This gold level certification is one that only 9 other airports in the U.S. have achieved.
Phase two of the airport reconstruction is set to be completed in 2024.
Why does this matter?
The redesign of the airport shows the growth and development of Salt Lake City as an up-and-coming urban area with greater influence in the world.
USA Today currently ranks Utah’s economy as the best of any state. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have suffered from soaring unemployment rates. Utah’s unemployment rate stands at 5.1%, which is less than half of the national average. Even before the pandemic, Utah had a far stronger economy than most of the country.
The strength of Utah’s economy paired with the pandemic causing surging rates of individuals working from home has groups from all over the country flocking to Utah for its unique outdoor opportunities and larger properties.
You can see the growth as you explore the state, with the great expansion of Utah as an international hub for business and technology. This new airport is one of the many steps that Utah is taking to ensure its place as a “go-to” destination in the future.