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Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) Automated People Mover (Sky Train)

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Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is one of the 10 busiest airports in the nation for passenger traffic, with more than 44 million passengers and 440,00 aircraft passing through the airport annually. With projections of continued growth, the airport is tasked with reducing congestion and improving service for travelers, crew, and employees.

The PHX Sky Train is an automated people mover that transports travelers between Valley Metro Rail at 44th and Washington streets, the East Economy Parking area, and airport terminals. The addition of Sky Train has drastically reduced the need for airport shuttle busses and, ultimately, landside traffic.

Since 2003, Kimley-Horn has provided planning, design, and construction support services as the civil designer for the $1.6 billion people mover program. This project includes the design of civil improvements throughout the airport as a part of the automated train project, including 11,000 feet of roadway, 8,000 feet of storm drain, 12 retention basins, utility relocations, lighting, and stripping. Challenges for the Kimley-Horn team have included an aggressive design schedule, a narrow and highly urbanized design corridor, and coordination with public and private utilities.

Our first tasks were to establish a need, justification, and scope of the project, define the train alignment and station locations, prepare program budgets, and review impacts and required improvements to existing facilities. As part of this initial phase, our services included preparation of train alignment alternatives, review of airspace restrictions and right-of-way, roadway and curbfront simulation modeling, passenger forecast modeling, and review of regional freeway access routes to the airport and train stations. Additionally, the Kimley-Horn team reviewed alternative connections to regional transit corridors and light rail stations, studied train maintenance and storage facility sites, expansion of economy parking lots and garages, and performed traffic analyses for all airport roadways and access routes.

Stage 1 of Sky Train opened to the public in April 2013, providing passenger connections between PHX’s Terminal 4, the East Economy Parking Lot, and the 44th Street Station which includes a passenger bridge and moving walkways to the City’s light rail station. Stage 1A, which opened in early 2015, extends the Sky Train from Terminal 4 to Terminal 3 and provides passenger access to all terminals.

Kimley-Horn’s services included the preparation of alignments and plan/profile geometrics for the train guideway, planning and simulation modeling, ground transportation center (GTC) planning and design, roadway design, parking/revenue control systems, East Economy Parking Lot reconfiguration and toll plaza relocation, utility relocations, structures and retaining walls, communications design, and the civil layout for access roads and terminal curbfront areas. The train guideway design included and aerial crossing of Taxiway R and under-crossings of Taxiways S and T.

Stage 2 of Sky Train began in late 2016 and is currently ongoing. This stage will provide an extension of the existing Sky Train from Terminal 3 to the Rental Car Center. Kimley-Horn is providing planning support and preliminary design concepts for this stage of the project.

Our planning activities have included updating the train alignment, making accommodations for existing cargo facilities and taxi staging areas, future terminal configurations, crossings under the future Taxiways U and V, integrating the future west GTC and employee office complex at 24th Street, and connecting the existing consolidated rental car facility (CONRAC). Additionally, Kimley-Horn is responsible for the GTC layout concepts with separate curbs for commercial and private traffic, parking, a new employee office complex, and facilities yard with airfield access. The team also performed a study to update the program costs to current year dollars and construction phasing alternatives for Stage 2.