By Brenda Flanagan
“Terminal A. I just think it’s outdated,” said Teresa Hamilton.
“It’s time for an upgrade, and we want to be a part of it,” said Dana Ross.
Ross and Hamilton co-own Showcase Kitchen Installers — a Newark business that joined hundreds of women and minority-owned firms lining up today for a piece of the $2.3 billion the Port Authority will spend to build a new Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport.
What’s that going to do for Hamilton? “For one, our reputation would go sky-high,” she said.
“There’s a lot of women working in construction and we would like to bid for higher opportunities. If our airport looks inviting, and looks a little bit more posh, I mean, that sets the tone,” said Verndrey Elliott, CEO of Immaculately Clean and Painting Services.
Posh does not describe the current experience at 44-year-old Terminal A. It’s obviously old and badly overcrowded, straining to handle 1 million more annual passengers than it was designed to accommodate.
“Even when we’re not actually crowded and you have plenty of time, passengers are out in the hold room areas feeling like they don’t have enough space or time to get through to their planes,” said Catherine Cronin, Newark Airport redevelopment program director for the Port Authority. “It was never designed for the security requirements that we have today. TSA and all of those checkpoints were never envisioned.”
Of Newark Airport’s three terminals, A’s the most obsolete. The Port Authority’s vision for a new A includes a 1 million square-foot, T-shaped terminal that’ll handle 13 million passengers through 33 gates — a 50 percent increase in capacity.
“This is not just an empty building. It’s a building that’s going to have a lot of life. And it needs to have a lot of life. It needs to be flexible. It needs to be adaptable,” said Port Authority Director of Aviation Huntley Lawrence.
Three teams got short-listed to bid for the terminal design build contract and should get requests for proposals within the next few weeks. Their visions focus on minimizing passenger angst, especially at security choke points.
“As long as our friends in the federal government manned every space that we’re going to provide for them for TSA, for the passengers to come through, the passengers will hopefully see a seamless entry into what we call the retail node — or the central location as you come through security. And then you’ll have a vast array of options for concessions,” said Curt Zegler, project manager for TLV Alliance.
“It’s efficiency, it’s high-tech looking, it’s high-tech acting, it’s a lot of interaction with Wi-Fi connections. You’re going to have great way-finding and signage. You’re going to have a lot of information that’s available to you that’s going to tell you not only what’s going on here, but what’s going on to where you’re headed to, as well,” said Gary Winsper, project manager for Skanska Walsh II.
“You want to be able to be directed to the next step into the terminal without having signage. You want it to be intuitive for the passengers to see. On the arrivals level in particular, you’d like to see a lot of natural light. And you want ready access to concessions. And you want a lot of bathrooms, frankly. It’s a functional thing,” said Charles Van Cook, project manager for Parsons and Tutor Perini.
The Port Authority will seek to recoup some of the project costs by raising airport fees. Teams will start hiring when the project’s awarded later this year.
“This is going to be a huge project and I’m from the city of Newark — born and raised here. I would love to say I was a part of it. I’d be proud to say that,” said Elliott.
The project’s deadlines are ambitious, especially since the old terminal will remain open while the new one’s being built. Port Authority hopes to fly out of 23 new gates by the year 2020 — all 33 new gates by 2022.