Phoenix Business Journal

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport will soon start construction on a new taxiway that is expected to cut down the time airplanes spend on the tarmac and could bring more flights to the airport.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, along with U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton and Mitch Landrieu, an adviser to President Joe Biden and the infrastructure coordinator for the White House, announced Tuesday that Sky Harbor will receive $194 million over the next five years to build a new taxiway.

The 2,000-foot taxiway will join the north and south airfields at Sky Harbor on the west end of the airport, allowing for better aircraft flow for airfield operations.

“By improving the taxiways – we give our three-runway airport the capacity of a four-runway airport,” Stanton said. “We want Sky Harbor to be America’s best operating airport.”

The entire project is expected to cost $260 million. Besides the $194 million from the federal government, the airport will cover the rest of the costs with funds from passenger facility charges, which is a fee included in airfare, and airport revenue. Sky Harbor already received the first grant of $5.3 million from the federal government for the project in August 2022. The first funds will be used for preliminary design. Construction is expected to begin in early 2023.

The funds for the project come from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed late last year by Congress. The bill puts aside $25 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration to give out in grants.

Kiewit Infrastructure of Nebraska will handle airport work

Phoenix has been expecting to get this grant for months. In April, Phoenix City Council selected a contractor to manage the construction of the project. Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., which is part of the Omaha, Nebraska Kiewit Corp., won the contract to build the airfield.

The government officials announcing the airport work not only boasted that the project and the associated legislation would bolster the economy once it is done, but they also said it will also help the labor market during the construction process.

“This one project will basically provide 3,000 jobs,” Landrieu told the Business Journal.

Landrieu, who is the former mayor of New Orleans and has helped roll out funds from the 2021 infrastructure bill across the U.S., said the goal of these grants is to help people on the local level get to where they are going easier and safer, which will benefit the economy.

“It is all about businesses and to make thing easier for people and make money quicker,” he said. “Only 10% of this money is going to be spent on federal projects. The rest is for states, cities and small businesses. This is taxpayer money being returned to taxpayers.”

Sky Harbor and city officials are looking to grab as many grants as possible to fund other projects at the airport. Phoenix’s aviation department has already identified several other projects they’d like to complete with federal funding including a second north concourse at Terminal 3, a pedestrian bridge between Terminals 3 and 4, infrastructure improvements at Terminal 4, upgrades to garage lighting, new solar installations, and replacement of fleet vehicles with electric vehicles.

In June, Southwest Airlines' newest terminal concourse opened at Sky Harbor. In September, United unveiled its newly expanded luxury lounge at the airport.

“Sky Harbor is an economic engine for the city of Phoenix,” Gallego said. “It delivers an annual economic impact of $38 billion and employs 57,000 workers.”