New Salt Lake airport central tunnel gets opening date as Phase 3 construction continues

Mar 6, 2024, 10:57 AM | Updated: 2:25 pm

Construction is underway on the Salt Lake airport's central tunnel. (SLC Airport, X)...

Construction is underway on the Salt Lake airport's central tunnel. (SLC Airport, X)

(SLC Airport, X)

SALT LAKE CITY — Shorter walks from security to your gate at the Salt Lake City International Airport are drawing closer as crews continue work on the central tunnel.

Once complete, the 1,175-foot-long tunnel will connect concourses A and B with moving sidewalks and eventually, two trams. On Wednesday, airport officials said the tunnel is now slated to open on Oct. 22.

“The walking distances for the vast majority of passengers here are really going to go down,” Salt Lake City Department of Airports Executive Director Bill Wyatt said in a video describing the new airport design.

“…that central tunnel opens, so you no longer have to walk a quarter-mile down the A concourse to get to B. You just go straight ahead.”

The Salt Lake airport central tunnel

Artist Gordon Huether designed the “River Tunnel,” which he said will ideally make passengers feel like they’re walking on the floor of a river.

“You’re looking for your gate you realize you gotta go through the pedestrian tunnel. The river tunnel. The central tunnel,” Huether said.

Six moving walkways will be installed in the tunnel to help with passenger flow, compared to the two in the mid-Concourse A tunnel, which airport officials said will remain open. Plans include adding a train on each side of the tunnel in the future.

The central tunnel couldn’t be built first because it would’ve cut through the old airport’s D and E gates while they were still operating.

Phase 3 of the new SLC airport

The entrance to Concourse B is a mini-plaza that will feature the World Map reinstalled from its previous home in the former airport, along with a large-scale art installation by Huether titled “Northern Light.”

“It’s really an iconic piece of art for the airport,” said Nancy Volmer, the communication director of Salt Lake City International Airport.

This phase will also include the opening of eight B gates to the right of the central tunnel and several dining and retail options, including:

  • Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen
  • Freddy’s Frozen Custard and
  • Maggiano’s Little Italy
  • Sunday’s Best
  • The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
  • Thirst
  • Cotopaxi
  • iStore Express
  • Relay
  • Travel Right
  • The Canyon
  • Weller Book Works

“The new airport has received national accolades for our concession’s program,” Wyatt said. “These unique restaurants and shops are expected to garner five-star reviews as well.”

More than two dozen new Concourse B gates are slated to open between 2024 and 2027, as well as many more retail stores and restaurants.

The airport is on track to grow from having 52 jet bridges to more than 90 over a seven-year span, highlighting the sudden growth of airline service in Salt Lake City, Wyatt pointed out.

“We’re the 23rd-largest (airport) in the country today and we are going to continue to tick up,” he said. “It’s not because the airport is really smart, it is because this community is growing and driving air service.”

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New Salt Lake airport central tunnel gets opening date as Phase 3 construction continues