Earlier this year, I wrote about the Phoenix Sky Train Grand Opening. As I mentioned in the article, the Sky Train will be extended to Terminal 3 and in service by 2015. The Sky Train will not have a station built at Terminal 2, and here's why: it is scheduled to be closed in 2019.
The Sky Train is just one part of a massive plan to overhaul Sky Harbor Airport and modernize it for the 21st century. The Sky Harbor website has all the details about its Terminal Modernization Program.
Basically, what they plan to do is close Terminal 2 and build a new South Concourse on Terminal 3, which will include 9 additional gates.
Other plans include adding more security lanes to the North Concourse of Terminal 3 and expanding the curb for pickup and drop-off.
The expansion of the airport is necessary to meet the needs of the growing city. Take a look at the number of passengers that have passed through Sky Harbor in recent years:
2009: 37.8 million passengers
2010: 38.5 million passengers
2011: 40.5 million passengers
2012: 40.4 million passengers
The city predicts that by the year 2020, the airport will be serving approximately 58 million passengers per year. The current infrastructure does not support that many people, which is why the modernization project was started in 2007.
While it is important to upgrade Sky Harbor, I will be sad to see Terminal 2 close down. Yes, it's old. Yes, it doesn't have the fancy restaurants, shops, and art galleries that Terminal 3 and 4 have. But it is an important part of Phoenix history.
Back in 1960, Phoenix was planning the construction of a new air terminal that would become Terminal 2. The City Council asked artists to submit drawings of a mural that would be installed at the terminal. Five finalists were selected and the drawings put on display at the library and voted on by the public.
The winning design belonged to Paul Coze, an artist from Beirut, Lebanon who had moved to Phoenix in 1951. Coze had envisioned a massive 16 foot by 75 foot mural split into three sections.
He created a mixed-medium mural using 52 different materials including oil paint, mosaic tiles, canvas, aluminum, and even dirt from Native American lands. When Terminal 2 opened on May 26, 1962, the public was stunned by the fantastic detail and strong symbolism present in Coze's work. This historically important mural also holds the distinction of being the first piece of public art installed in the City of Phoenix.
Coze later did murals for the Phoenix City Council chambers, the Arizona Title Building, Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and Phoenix Indian Hospital. He also did sculptures for Town and Country Mall and St. Thomas the Apostle church. Coze was THE go-to guy for art commissions in the 1960s, and many regard "The Phoenix" mural at Terminal 2 to be his finest work.
I hope that in the plans for the Terminal Modernization Program call for saving this historic work of art and preserving it for future generations.
We will keep you posted about progress on the construction at Sky Harbor as more information becomes available.