Where We Live: PDX’s $2B upgrade ‘to take us into the future’

Multnomah County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland International Airport is undergoing a $2 billion upgrade that will drastically change its look and function.

In a few years, PDX will look sleek, modern and built for the next generation of air travel.

“It’s really designed to take us into the future,” said Vince Granato with PDX NEXT. “We needed additional capacity, we needed more seismic resilience. We needed more flexibility in the terminal.”

When the new terminal is completed in 2025, the Port of Portland says travelers will be greeted with a park-like environment filled with live trees, ferns and light streaming in from the glass exterior walls and the skylights overhead.

The skylights are part of the new $100 million wood beam roof currently under construction in the airfield, just west of the terminal. The nearly 400,000-square-foot roof is made from Northwest materials, giving the terminal an architectural “wow” factor.

“We’re going to unzip it into 20 different sections and we’re going to drive all 20 sections across the airfield and erect them individually over a few months period,” said Katrina Day with Hoffman Skanska.

The combined projects employ more than 600 workers. They include security upgrades, accommodations for future health screening procedures and technology upgrades such as better Wi-Fi.

A new, bigger marketplace is being built to accommodate the restaurants and shops that visitors love at PDX. Those retailers are gone right now, but they’ll be back.

The airlines are paying most of the $2 billion bill to improve an airport that travelers consistently rate among the best in the U.S.

PDX averaged nearly 20,000,000 passengers every year before the pandemic. That number has fallen to about 15,000,000 currently. But the Port of Portland expects passenger counts to grow to more than 35,000,000 by the year 2045. The terminal upgrades and expansion take that growth into account, taking PDX to the next level.

The Port said airport operations will continue as normal despite the construction.

Don’t worry — the iconic airport carpet is incorporated in the new design, so you’ll still be able to take foot selfies.

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