With the first phase of PHX Sky Train from the 44th Street Metro Light Rail in Phoenix to Sky Harbor Airport’s Terminal 4 on track for a 2013 opening, many wondered why the second stage to connect the airport’s other terminals to the system wasn't set to open until 2020. That changed earlier this month after the Phoenix City Council voted to move up completion of a .6-mile section to connect Terminal 4 with Terminal 3, along with a walkway for passengers to access Terminal 2, to early 2015. This portion was originally part of a second phase that would also add a 3.2-mile stretch of track to the Rental Car Center west of the airport.

Photo courtesy Hensel Phelps Construction Co.
Hensel Phelps Construction Co. is building PHX Sky Train's 1.7-mi-long, $644-million first phase, scheduled to be operational in early 2013.
Image courtesy Sky Harbor
Construction of the .6-mile connector from Terminal 4 to Terminal 3 was advanced nearly six years by a vote of the Phoenix City Council. Construction will include a new station at Terminal 3, which will also include a short walkway (right) to Terminal 2.

Re-dubbed Stage 1a, the portion that was advanced by nearly six years carries a $240-million project cost, with funding provided by passenger facility charges and airport revenues. McCarthy-Kiewit, a joint venture between Tempe, Ariz.-based McCarthy Building Cos. and the Phoenix office of Kiewit Corp., was awarded a construction manager-at-risk contract for a portion of Stage 1a.

The Rental Car Center connector remains as originally scheduled for 2020 completion.

PHX Sky Train’s 1.7-mile-long first phase, begun in 2009, is being constructed by the Phoenix office of Hensel Phelps Construction Co. The $644-million section features many innovative design elements, including a 350-ft-long bridge that carries the train 90 ft above an active taxiway that is large enough for 747s to pass through.

Phase one also includes three stations, two of which are enclosed and air conditioned.  The 81,000-sq-ft station connecting PHX Sky Train to Metro Light Rail at 44th and Washington streets sits 66 ft above ground level and will see trains arriving every three minutes during peak times. The station was topped off last month with the installation of the last of 17 elliptical arched beams weighing 35,000 lbs each.

Once all sections are complete, the project cost is estimated to total $1.5 billion. The free-to-ride system will see trains operating every three minutes during peak times.