Location: Terminal construction site at Pittsburgh International Airport

Featured guests: Paul Hoback, executive vice president of the Allegheny County Airport Authority

3 things that surprised me:

1. The terminal project is the biggest ongoing construction project in Western Pennsylvania. The state-of-the-art landside terminal (where you check in, go through security and claim your bags) will be closer to the current airside terminal (where you board your flight). Once the terminal is completed in early 2025, passengers will have a short walk through a tunnel from security to their gate, eliminating the “people mover” train along with miles of underground baggage conveyer belts. On the day we visited, there were more than 450 construction workers at the job site. In a few months, there will be even more. Additionally, the 5,000-space parking garage that’s now under construction will be the biggest parking garage in Pennsylvania. Gensler + HDR in conjunction with luis vidal + architects are charged with creating the overall, campus-wide design of the new terminal. Michael Baker International is designing the parking garage.

2. The steel being used in the terminal project was made in America and was fabricated just a few miles away in Ambridge. Some of the new steel girders weigh more than 100,000 pounds. Over the past century, countless famous structures have been fabricated in Ambridge, including parts of the Empire State Building, the Hudson River’s Tappan Zee Bridge and parts of the Kennedy Space Center.

3. The Allegheny County Airport Authority had to negotiate with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be able to erect cranes on the construction site, as cranes could potentially block the takeoff or landing routes of aircraft. Through careful daily planning with the air traffic control tower, they’re able to operate 12 cranes on site without disrupting any flight paths.

One thing that didn’t make the final cut: Though we focused on the landside terminal, the airport is also working on a multi-million dollar upgrade to the airside terminal.

Additional info: You can learn more about the construction project and see some artistic renderings at the PIT Transformed website.

Want more Yinzer Backstage Pass? Check out our visit to the penguin exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium.

Boaz is the host of NEXTpittsburgh's Yinzer Backstage Pass video series. He is also an author, filmmaker, advertising copywriter, teacher, experiential storyteller, talk show host, gardener, kazoo museum curator and so much more.