When new terminal opens at McCarran, old one will come down

Terminal 3 at McCarran International Airport is shown under construction in this August 2010 file photo. The terminal is scheduled to open in summer 2012.

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Travelers from an international flight wait in line at the passport check area at McCarran International Airport's Terminal 2 on Wednesday, April 23, 2010.

When McCarran International Airport’s $2.4 billion Terminal 3 opens a year from now, Terminal 2, the eight-gate charter and international concourse north of the airport’s main facility, will be torn down.

Clark County Aviation Director Randall Walker said the facility that welcomed more than 2 million passengers in 2010, is no longer a functional terminal. “We’ve been keeping the place together with baling wire and bubble gum,” he said.

Airport officials have been mulling what to do with the terminal, which opened in 1986, once McCarran’s 14-gate Terminal 3 opens. The new facility will have expanded U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities to process international arrivals faster. The airport will have the ability to accommodate two arriving flights at the same time, something that wasn’t possible at Terminal 2.

Terminal 3 will primarily serve international and domestic long-haul flights. The new terminal will have two floors of security checkpoints and an underground rail shuttle to McCarran’s D gates. When the terminal opens, Walker said, travelers would need to learn which terminal would provide the easiest access to their flights and where arriving passengers should be picked up.

The fate of Terminal 2 has always been a back-burner discussion.

The terminal has great airside access and the land abuts McCarran’s economy parking lot, making it extremely valuable. Knowing that Terminal 3 would soon open, airport officials invested little money in expansion or upkeep of the old building.

Walker said he’s assigning the airport’s long-range planners to rough out what the county could do with the land.

The county eventually could build another terminal building connected by rail shuttle to add more gates if the city gets back into a growth mode, he said. That could eliminate the need for a second airport in Ivanpah Valley, south of Las Vegas.

Walker said officials would complete the required environmental assessments and reports for Ivanpah, but shelve them until there’s a need for a second airport.

In 2007, 48 million passengers used McCarran, and airport officials worried about exceeding the estimated capacity of 53 million a year. With the need for a second airport evident, Clark County acquired 6,500 acres near Primm from the Bureau of Land Management and began work on an environmental-impact statement.

When the Great Recession hit, demand fell at the airport and the passenger count dropped to 39.8 million in 2010. Meanwhile, federal transportation officials began working toward a next-generation air traffic control system that would increase capacity in the sky enabling more flights per hour.

Adding gates at McCarran was penciled out as an option.

“I don’t think we would ever build Ivanpah if we have capacity at this airport,” Walker said. “It’s all in the master planning. We’re good at operating airports, and we’re also good at looking into the future and figuring out what it is we need to do if the community needs us to do it.”

When Terminal 2 comes down, the new building won’t change numbers. There will be Terminal 1 and Terminal 3, but no Terminal 2.

“I don’t think people will worry about that,” Walker said. “We don’t have any Gate 13s either.”

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  1. The worst tradition of Bob "Pig-Of-The-Hill" Broadbent lives on after him. Broadbent was one of the most prolific waster of taxpayer dollars. He was in charge of overseeing the "renovation" of Hoover Dam when that project went millions over budget and years beyond its scheduled completion date. The same held true at McCarran as Broadbent saw to it his cronies benefited from "sweetheart" contracts and "make work" projects. Randy Walker was a protege of Broadbent's and learned well at the master's knee, it appears.

  2. Jerry, tomorrow morning please get a cup of coffee or two down before you write. It may save us from having to endure more speaking-ill-of-the-dead. If memory serves, it has been about 15 years since the renovations at the dam were finished. And, the guy spent his life trying to help his community as he thought was right.

  3. If we aren't going to use Ivanapah as an passenger airport, it would be a good place for an intermodal air/rail/truck facility with warehousing and manufacturing around the intermodal terminal.

  4. Goodman: apparently you did not know the "Pig-Of-The-Hill" as well as I did. A couple of sayings are apropos here: "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing," and "Those that do not know history are doomed to repeat it." Both apply to the "Pig-Of-The-Hill" as his legacy lives on in corruption, favoritism and nepotism. When one calls a "spade a spade," one is not "speaking ill of the dead," merely warning others as to the evil he or she perpetrated while living. Broadbent was a liar, cheat & thief. He earned my disdain!