Pittsburgh airport breaks ground on cargo handling expansion

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by Emily Atkins

Pittsburgh International Airport’s capacity to handle cargo from around the world is about to get a whole lot bigger.

Crews broke ground on a new 77,000 square-foot facility that will allow for cargo expansion and introduce new technology and cargo handling capabilities to PIT.

Scheduled to open in 2024, Cargo 4 will enhance the airport’s ability to accept freight from abroad and distribute it throughout the United States and North America, and positioning the airport as a gateway for international logistics. The new facility will generate US$229 million for the region.

The Cargo 4 project is being funded in part through the U.S Department of Transportation’s BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) program, which supports investments in transportation infrastructure. In November 2019, the agency awarded an $18.69 million grant to PIT to support the construction of the facility on the northwest side of the airfield. Earlier this year, the agency awarded an additional $5.8 million to support the project.

The facility will include 69,000 square feet of warehouse space and 7,300 square feet of office space across two floors. The building will feature 17 loading docks for trucks; most will come with dock levelers while others will be used specifically for Unit Loading Devices (ULDs). Flatbed trucks will be able to access the interior of the warehouse with a dedicated loading dock.

Dedicated areas in the facility will be able to segregate goods deemed valuable, vulnerable or hazardous. It will also have expansion capabilities to hold more equipment for special cargo and accommodate temperature-controlled goods. In addition, the building’s design includes additional space for security screening, particularly for international cargo.

“This facility is a major step in growing Pittsburgh International Airport into an international logistics center,” said Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis.

“Cargo continues to be a major focus for us, and the downstream economic benefits are substantial for the region. We are appreciative that our federal officials understand the importance of air cargo as national critical infrastructure.”

The facility will have the ability to handle any cargo aircraft flying today. Its expanded apron will be able to serve two Boeing 747-8 freighters side by side, or up to four Boeing 757-200s at once.