New airport terminal keeps Detroit on comeback trail

Northwest Airlines unveils $1.2 billion terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport
August 11, 2010

In just the latest and largest example of the Motor City’s ongoing renaissance, Northwest Airlines Feb. 24 opened its new $1.2 billion main terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Part of the facility’s ongoing $2 billion expansion, the new Edward H. McNamara Terminal boasts a mile-long indoor people-mover and a 10-level, 11,500-space parking garage. McNamara, long-time Wayne County executive and local power broker, was the main catalyst who sparked the deal with Northwest.

“Detroit is a city with a bright future,” McNamara said at the opening ceremonies. “This terminal is another step forward, a chance for the people of the world to see the progress Detroit and its people have made by working together.”

Other recent developments such as 2-year-old Comerica Park and adjacent Ford Field, to be completed this fall, are injecting new life into the Detroit metro area. Adding to the regrowth, several big-name corporations, including General Motors and Compuware Corp., have relocated offices downtown.

Mile-long concourse

The four-level terminal consists of 97 gates in three concourses. The largest, Concourse A, extends nearly a mile, and features a two-car indoor people-mover system. It will work in conjunction with nearly 1.5 miles of moving walkways to transport people through the terminal. An 800-ft.-long below-grade tunnel connects Concourse A to B and C, located in a parallel structure.

Designed by architect/engineer SmithGroup, Detroit, the steel-and-glass terminal features an arc-shaped roof supported by an exposed king-post truss and framing system and covered with stainless-steel panels. Daylight enters through a continuous line of floor-to-ceiling windows that span the entire 750-ft. length of the ticketing area.

Northwest Airlines served as the construction manager for the project, and Hunt Construction Group, Indianapolis, was general contractor.

“People who see this airport will be struck by its innovative design,” said Jim Greenwald, Northwest’s vice president of facilities and airport affairs, who headed the four-person Northwest management team. “That design gave us the opportunity to break new ground and offer customer amenities that set a new standard for airports.”

Greenwald points to amenities such as the people-mover, 80 shops and restaurants, 18 luggage carousels and the attached parking garage.

Wayne County owns the terminal, with Northwest as the main tenant. It was financed with county bonds that will be repaid using airport revenues generated from passenger facility charges, which were raised from $3 per person to $4.50 last October. BDC

         
 

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