News and Events

Modernizing an Airport Terminal: Expanding Concourse to Improve Customer Experience

posted 03.16.2018

As one of Arizona’s main transportation hubs, the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has experienced a significant amount of growth and expansion in the last five years. To meet the needs of its nearly 40 million passengers annually, the airport is working to improve services for its airlines and travelers alike. To help in the expansion, Terracon’s experienced aviation and materials professionals provided quality assurance consulting and non-destructive testing services on various building components to verify that future travelers would be safe during seismic events and that the quality of construction would meet the intended life cycle costs.

The original terminal was built in 1979 and needed improvements to keep the airport competitive. The most recent work involves a $590 million design-build, expansion to the existing Terminal 3, which consists of a new customer processing terminal, South Concourse, and enhancements to the North Concourse. The existing South Concourse of Terminal 3 was razed, and a 15-gate concourse was constructed to replace the existing structure. The makeover included adding windows throughout the facility and even a new garden and dog park – all to bring a more open and modern experience to its visitors. The new structures were constructed of reinforced concrete, structural masonry, structural steel moment frames, and metal decking.

Depth of Services Differentiates

For this signature project, Terracon initially provided materials testing to supplement the City of Phoenix Aviation Department as a part of the quality assurance team during construction. Terracon provided a full-time, experienced aviation technician to perform compaction verification, concrete and grout sampling, and construction observation. Having on-site knowledge and expertise with respect to FAA specifications, materials, and typical construction practices that occur during airport construction was an immediate benefit to the owner and contractor. As an added benefit, our local staff was also well versed with City of Phoenix requirements which enhanced communication, and kept the project moving forward without unnecessary delays.

During our scope development, it was also noted by the airport team that the project would require visual welding inspection and ultrasonic testing of the moment connections for the structural steel welding construction. Based on the project needs, Terracon provided two experienced, local certified welding inspectors with non-destructive testing expertise to the project to observe and test 100 percent of the moment connections as well as standard welding inspection services for the welded connections for the South Concourse. High-strength bolting special inspection, structural steel erection observation, and fabrication inspection of steel was also provided.

Reporting Adds Value

During the construction, Terracon provided daily reports and test data, including location descriptions and photos which were rapidly turned around to the project team — most within 24 hours after performing the service. This allowed the team to quickly confirm the information produced met the project specifications and allowed the contractor to perform minor rework as necessary without losing time. Terracon tracked all non-conformances separately on a deviation log as the work continued, keeping all outstanding non-conformities at a high attention level to all concerned parties.

As airports throughout the United States prepare for update and expansion, Terracon continues to offer comprehensive services and solutions for facilities of all sizes. With a national footprint, we already serve many large and regional airports from our local offices. Our aviation team is well-versed with FAA specifications, specific reporting requirements, and special inspection and ready to assist with any facility needs.


Tracy Grover is a principal and senior project manager in Terracon’s Phoenix office. Tracy is the current Chair of the American Concrete Institute Committee 311, Inspection of Concrete, and has extensive experience in airport construction, materials testing, and quality assurance.  He has provided consulting on airports and airfields in Washington, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Guam.