For Full Story and Video: South Florida Sun Sentinel

Article By: Larry Barszewski


The airport currently is in the middle of $3.2 billion in improvements that has added gates, built a runway above Federal Highway, added new parking, stores and shops, and which will internally connect all the terminals so travelers will no longer have to go outside to get from one terminal to another.

The money for the projects is expected to come from airport revenues and contributions from airlines who fly there.

The current improvements were designed to keep pace with growth that has seen annual airport traffic increase from 23.5 million to 32.5 million passengers since 2013. The new maser plan, expected to be completed in 2019, lays out a plan to handle growth that is expected to add another 20 million passengers annually by 2035 — roughly 52 million travelers a year.

Future construction projects and improvements include:

— An elevated people-mover circling the airport terminals and connecting to a transportation center above U.S. 1. The center could allow future passengers to connect to Brightline or another rail service, or make a connection that takes them to the Broward County Convention Center or cruise ships sailing out of Port Everglades.

— Terminal expansions increasing the number of gates from 62 to 95, allowing for hundreds of more flights a day to and from the airport.

— Widening the terminal roadway with more curb space for picking up and dropping off passengers.

— Adding a new hotel that would be built with an adjacent nine-level parking garage on the airport right next to the terminals, complete with conference space and an exterior courtyard.

— Installing higher ceilings, wider corridors and expansive windows. These changes are already visible from recent construction work and would continue with future expansions, along with more shopping and restaurant options for travelers.

The airport Director Mark Gale said the exterior improvements — the people mover, wider roads — would be part of a seven-year first phase of construction. The master plan will be a blueprint that can be adapted, based on future circumstances, he said.

For instance, officials aren’t certain yet what would be included in the transportation “intermodal center,” which would be in the middle of the access road loop to the airport above U.S. 1.