Big Changes Planned For San Diego Airport's Terminal 1

Expect more gates, restaurants, shops, and checkpoints but the first phase of the upgrade won't be complete until 2024

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The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDRAA) has approved a plan to replace and upgrade Terminal 1 at Lindbergh Field, which has been in operation for the last 53 years.

Photos: Big Changes Planned For San Diego Airport’s Terminal 1

The Airport Authority's board of directors on Thursday certified a final Environmental Impact Report for its Airport Development Plan (ADP).

The new Terminal 1 will feature 30 gates, up from 19 at the current terminal. It will offer more gate area seating, restaurants, and shops, as well as additional security checkpoints and energy efficiency upgrades, according to the Airport Authority.

Also included in the ADP are numerous roadway and transportation improvements around the airport. A proposed on-entry road, which would provide a more direct path to the terminal, was estimated to remove about 45,000 cars per day from Harbor Drive.

The Airport Authority says the plan sets aside space between Lindbergh Field's two terminals for a transit station that could accommodate any regional transit system.

The ADP only supports infrastructure for future transit projects, though, and does not include a plan to bring public transportation to the airport. That would need to be approved by SANDAG, MTS or other regional transportation agencies.

The goal is to break ground on the new terminal in 2021 and open the first phase (19 gates) in 2024.

According to the Airport Authority, when Terminal 1 opened in 1967, it served 2.5 million passengers. In 2019, the terminal served more than 12 million people.

According to the Airport Authority, the total cost of the project is $3 billion. The money will come from airport revenue, which is generated mostly from airlines.

SANDAG sent NBC 7 the following statement:

"SANDAG is working closely with its partners to explore the best options to improve transit access to the airport. The project is in the planning phases and no final decisions have been made."

Next, the project faces a federal environmental review and evaluation from the California Coastal Commission.

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