Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) officially opened its new Terminal A late last week. The 1 million square foot terminal has 33 gates and is expected to welcome over 13 million passengers each year. It is estimated the project has cost a jaw-dropping $2.7 billion.
The opening marks the end of the project’s first phase, with 21 of the 33 new gates coming into service. Air Canada, American Airlines, JetBlue, and United will all utilize the newly opened gates. The remaining 12 gates will be operational later in 2023 and, once open, will welcome passengers flying on Delta.
Newark Airport has 3 terminals. The new Terminal A will fully replace the old one, which will soon be demolished. The long-awaited new terminal will modernize operations, provide more capacity, and prominently feature New Jersey art, food, businesses, and people.
A Long Awaited Upgrade
In 2019 over 46 million passengers made use of the airport, setting a record for the facility. EWR facilitates over 1,000 flights each day via 30 different airlines. Flights to and from Newark connect travelers with 89 domestic and 79 international destinations.
Despite its status as one of the busiest in the country, Newark International Airport has long had a reputation for being dark, outdated, and run down. The new Terminal A hopes to leave that image behind as it replaces the original terminal that was built in 1973.
At 1 million square feet, the new terminal is 20% larger than the old one, allowing it to serve an additional 4 million passengers each year. They have added 14 additional security screening lanes and 60 self-serve check-in kiosks.
The project also included $400 million for a 2,700-space public parking garage and a centralized car rental hub which will be accessible via a pedestrian walkway from the terminal. The terminal was designed to maximize road frontage, a move that has added 250% more curbside loading space. There are now 4 lanes dedicated to curbside loading space.
The new Terminal A is equipped with state-of-the-art technology intended to improve the customer experience by reducing wait times. By using 3D sensors and software, the airport will streamline operations. Check-in counters and security areas are equipped with the technology, as are the terminal’s smart restrooms, departure gates, and waypoints. Additionally, controversial facial recognition software will be utilized at ticketing counters and e-gates to confirm passenger identity.
Additionally, the new terminal has incorporated features to help reach its environmental goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. These features include solar panels, new electric shuttle buses, and energy-efficient lighting.
A Space That Embodies New Jersey
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the new Terminal A is its intentional design that incorporates the best of what New Jersey has to offer. Not only is the terminal decked out with local art, food, and retail options, the developers have prioritized awarding contracts to local, minority, and women-owned firms.
During the Terminal’s official opening, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy explained the importance of showcasing New Jersey. “From uniquely New Jersey concessions to innovative public art installations and world-class facilities, Terminal A is revolutionizing travel in a state that has always been – and always will be – a model for the rest of the nation to follow.”
Several of New Jersey’s favorite eateries have set up shop in the terminal. Bang Cookies, Carlitos Barbeque Taqueria, and Jersey & Co. Gelato have all expanded their local operations to include outlets at the airport.
At the forefront of Terminal A’s New Jersey-centric design is an extensive public art program designed to reflect the diversity and creativity of the state. 27 local artists were commissioned to transform the space with their creative talents. The goal is to create a civic amenity that portrays the unique New Jersey sense of place to everyone who visits.
Two artists were selected to create permanent installations inside the terminal. A massive 350-foot mural designed by Newark-based artist Layqu Nuna Yawar welcomes passengers inside the arrivals hall and concourse. Additionally, two suspended sculptures by artist Karyn Olivier display photos of popular New Jersey landmarks.
There are also immersive digital installations throughout the terminal. Through a partnership with multimedia studio Moment Factory, the “Forest of Firsts” comes to life. The exhibit is a digital interpretation of significant “firsts” in New Jersey’s history.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com