Portland Airport Slated for Remodel

A PDXNext publicity photo from the Port of Portland website of the Portland International Airport. This very airport is on schedule to be extensively remodeled over the course of the next five years. Photo by Port of Portland.

Portland, Oregon is one of the major cities in the United States that can count itself as lucky enough to have a fully functioning (if not thriving) airport right within its city limits. Portland International Airport (nicknamed PDX after its airport code) is well known to and well loved by locals and visitors alike, providing ease of transportation to and from the city and connecting directly to most major U.S airports, as well as to terminals around the world. Certain aspects of the airport are even adopted as cultural symbols used to identify oneself with the area, such as the widespread infatuation with the patterns on PDX’s carpet. It is because of this kind of popularity that PDX, which has been operating in its present space since 1940, finds itself in need of changes for the sake of modernization and improving the experiences of everyone who uses it as a conduit for travel. These renovations, revamps, and reboots are known collectively as PDXNext.

“PDXNext is the name we’ve given to a series of large construction projects that will make the airport better for travelers, airlines, and employees,” reads the project overview on the Port of Portland’s website. These projects are meant to bring the infrastructure of the airport into the modern age and create a safer travel experience and environment. These aren’t the first changes to come to the Portland International Airport, which initially began at a much smaller location on Swan Island. The organization purchased a plot consisting of just 256 acres of land that eventually proved insufficient for the coming needs of the city’s fliers. The current site of the airport was purchased in 1936, a 700 acre plot of land that—despite the increase in size to suit the projected growth of the airport and the needs that would arise—would still need significant future tweaking. Over the past near century, the airport has seen flooding, expansion, runway closures and reopenings, and more. The present terminal is (mostly) the same facility that has served the airport since said terminal’s opening in 1959, albeit with additions made inside and out as issues and possibilities have cropped up, ranging from expanded parking garages and new control towers to the presence of a “mini movie theater” within the terminal.

PDXNext is the most recent in these attempts to accommodate the needs of the public in every facet of their travel experience. These improvements have been and will be carried out by 10 different design and construction organizations, and the airlines served by PDX provide the majority of the budget for each project. The program’s first completed project was the modernization of the airport’s aforementioned famous carpet, which dedicated $13 million to redesigning the pattern of the carpet itself and replacing all of the carpeted flooring throughout the terminal, a goal that was accomplished in November 2015. Its final goal is a complete overhaul of the core of the terminal, which is projected to take place in 2023 with a phase one budget of $950 million. It’s described as “a modernization of the heart of PDX, necessary to ensure sufficient capacity for future passenger demand, upgrade seismic resiliency, and replace aging systems and infrastructure.” Between these bookend projects, one can find everything from the establishment of new shops and restaurants throughout the airport to enhanced security measures and inspection stations. Overall, the goal is to take PDX into a safer and more comfortable future, one with the kind of efficiency that an airport of this size and importance demands. As long as timelines and work progress hold up, this is a more than doable goal, and the PDX of 2023 is set to be a grand improvement on the airport citizens of Portland know and love.

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