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Pittsburgh International Airport Launches Next Stage of $1.4B Renovation

Construction on a new tunnel-like passenger bridge, inspired by the Fort Pitt Tunnel and evoking the landscape of the local area, will begin this month

by Fergus Cole

March 20, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Pittsburgh International Airport

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) has unveiled plans to construct a tunnel-like connector bridge at its new $1.4 billion terminal, which takes inspiration from the city.

A “dynamic connector bridge and tunnel” will be used by passengers traveling between the new landside terminal to the existing airside center core. The design of the gateway will take inspiration from Pittsburgh’s Fort Pitt Tunnel, which connects citizens to the city’s downtown area. The iconic Fort Pitt Tunnel was once claimed by the New York Times to be “the best way to enter an American city.”

Photo: Courtesy of Pittsburgh International Airport

“Pittsburgh is a city with a magnificent entrance, and this design, as part of our new terminal program, provides travelers with a similar experience,” said Paul Hoback, Chief Development Officer of the Alleghany County Airport Authority. “Capturing the essence of Pittsburgh is an important part of our new facility.”

According to the airport, the new passenger tunnel will “evoke the beauty of the region,” using an architectural strategy of “compression and expansion” to comfort passengers as they emerge into the airside terminal.

The bridge will use state-of-the-art lighting and dynamic screens to offer passengers a different ambient experience depending on the time of day. For example, light and fresh colors will be displayed in the morning, while deep oranges and purples will be apparent around sunset, which the airport says will “emulate the scenic skies of western Pennsylvania.”

Photo: Courtesy of Pittsburgh International Airport

“This is something that’s uniquely Pittsburgh, and we want passengers to have that feeling of awe as they enter the mezzanine level,” added Hobart.

The team working on designing the new terminal and passenger bridge studied the landscape of Pittsburgh and the surrounding region when coming up with the vision for the new space. This continues from the tradition of the airport, which currently has elements inspired by the aesthetics of the local area, from the undulating roof that represents the rolling hills of Pennsylvania to the “warm timber and ample plantings” that feature throughout the terminal.

Using the slogan “for Pittsburgh, by Pittsburgh” as a key feature of the new terminal’s construction, the new passenger bridge will be constructed using materials from the Sippel Steel Fab in nearby Ambridge.

Another unique aspect of the new terminal’s design is that passengers will enter the building on the second floor above the gates, allowing for a better retail experience.

Photo: Courtesy of Pittsburgh International Airport

Ground was broken on the new $1.4 billion terminal in October 2021, with construction on the new passenger bridge set to begin this month. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2025.

Pittsburgh International Airport has urged passengers to allow more time to get to their gates while construction is underway.