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Construction at airport to cause delays

Road work expected to last through November

Airline customers in Salt Lake City be forewarned — it's going to take you extra time to reach your passenger jet.

Salt Lake City's airport officials are warning fliers to leave home an additional 15 to 20 minutes early in order to be certain to make flights on time.

And this is one delay that isn't blamed on security. Instead, drivers will have to negotiate a maze of orange barrels to reach Salt Lake City International Airport as the airport begins the first phase of its $60 million land-side construction project. The first phase of the project is expected to last until November.

The route to the airport, mapped in construction cones, will change continuously, so drivers are being warned to take extra caution and time as they make their way to the airport.

The construction delays will add to the already increased time airline passengers face due to heightened security since 9/11.

Construction on the initial phase began with a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, with Mayor Rocky Anderson and Department of Airports Director Tim Campbell tossing the first dirt. As the project moves forward, delays due to road and other construction will gradually increase, Campbell said.

Anderson touted the first project of the first phase, which will cost $6 million and employ between 150-200 workers, as an economic stimulus in trying financial times. Besides the short-term economic benefit, Anderson said airport renovation will give Utah's tourist and business industries a long-term punch.

"The more we're able to invest in this airport the better it is for our community," Anderson said.

Under the guidance of constructor W.W. Clyde & Co. the main road into the airport will be torn up and reconfigured further east. The long-term parking lot will also be moved east, and expanded rental-car space will move in where much of the old long-term parking was. During construction, traffic will be rerouted over a series of detours that will change throughout the project's life.

In July the airport will begin the second leg of the first phase when traffic lanes and sidewalks in front of the terminals will be widened. The goal, say airport officials, is to provide more space for passenger processing and operations in the tight area. During construction, cars will still be allowed to idle at terminal curbs as passengers are picked up and dropped off, department of airports spokeswoman Barbara Gann said.

When terminal-area construction begins in July, passengers might need to afford even more time to make sure they make their flights, Campbell said.

In coming years Salt Lake City plans more land-side development, including the construction of a new short-term parking garage. Along with the land-side redevelopment, the air-side of the airport will also undergo significant construction to accommodate more regional jets.