TAMPA, FL — With the 2022 holiday travel season in full swing, Tampa International Airport’s innovative Blue Express Curbsides are offering guests a quick and easy way to get in and out of the Main Terminal.
The latest concept, the first of its kind at a US airport and an integral element in Phase 2 of TPA’s Master Plan, last week celebrated one year since its opening in November 2021.
The innovative lanes are designed to ease congestion and make travel easier for passengers who don’t check baggage and have already received their electronic boarding passes on their mobile devices.
About half of TPA passengers do not check bags on their flights, making fast lanes ideal if these passengers are dropped off or picked up in the Main Terminal by friends or family, a taxi or a shared vehicle.
The use of express lanes keeps those vehicles and passengers out of the main loading and unloading lanes and allows those passengers to bypass ticketing and baggage claim levels.
“Blue Side Express Curbsides are an innovative concept that follows the airport’s tradition of being an industry leader in design and convenience,” said TPA Vice President of Planning and Development Jeff Siddle. “These express lanes offer travelers an even easier way to navigate our Main Terminal and get to their flight quickly and safely, without having to visit areas they won’t use.”
Many passengers have embraced the lanes, which have gained momentum over the past year. Almost 30 percent of departures and more than 20 percent of arrivals ABOUT Blue Side Airlines now use the Blue Express curbs on their way in and out of the Main Terminal.
The concept won the Florida Airports Council’s J. Bryan Cooper Award in the Vision category for its innovative design and was twice named Project of the Year by both the trade publication Engineering News-Record Southeast and the Florida Department of Transportation.
Travelers using Red Side airlines will also enjoy the benefits of Express in a few years. The airport is currently working to add eight more lanes on the other side of the Main Terminal. Construction on the Red Expressway began in September and is part of a series of projects that will further expand space and access for commuters.
Hensel Phelps and HNTB, the same builder of the Blue Express Curbsides design, are also helping bring the Red Express Curbsides to life.
The $102.9 million plan involves demolishing the old airport administration building on the north side of the Main Terminal and replacing it with new Red Express lanes. During the removal of the administration building, work will begin on the entrance and exit bridges for the new Red Express Boards.
A traffic shift to the new bypass lanes will affect arrivals on the Red Side after Thanksgiving, but aside from some temporary parking garage changes, most of the construction won’t be visible to commuters for weeks upcoming.
“There will be some minor adjustments to traffic patterns while crews are working,” said Senior Construction Manager Dan Seeley. “Traffic control devices will be in place to allow workers, equipment and material to get where they need to go, but the impact should be minimal during the holidays.”
When the Red Express Curbsides project is completed in the summer of 2025, visitors can expect an expanded transfer level, with a larger walkway to the Airport Marriott, retail space and a shuttle station for the future Airside D, the terminal first new airline at TPA in nearly 20 years.
To learn more about the TPA Master Plan, which includes the Express Curbsides project, click here.