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Bechtel’s Impact Report

McCarran International Airport

Nevada, USA
Inside McCarran International Airport

McCarran International has tripled in size—as has the city it serves

Capacity, comfort, convenience, security and safety are essential to McCarran's continued success, as well as that of Las Vegas. Bechtel has helped Clark County enhance those attributes for more than 30 years. In partnership with Clark County Department of Aviation, Bechtel orchestrated all six phases of McCarran International Airport's expansion and modernization, starting in 1981. These expansions have kept this airport at pace with the phenomenal growth of Las Vegas and its tourist industry.

The most recent project was the new state-of-the-art Terminal 3completed in 2012 on schedule and within budget. The $2.4 billion facility was the largest expansion effort undertaken at McCarran.

Projects we have managed include terminals, concourses, dozens of gates, runways, parking facilities for thousands of vehicles, freeways, roads, bridges, a tunnel, utility systems, an automated people-mover system, a consolidated-car-rental facility, a bus maintenance depot, a terminal security annex, an integrated in-line baggage-screening program, and more.

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Inside the runway upgrade

‚ÄčOne of many McCarran efforts carried out by Bechtel-managed project teams was a major runway upgrade completed in 2009, ahead of schedule.

Crews removed some 144,000 cubic yards (110,000 cubic meters) of asphalt and replaced it with concrete and new asphalt. This is equivalent to the amount of material needed to construct a broad sidewalk from Las Vegas to Portland, Oregon. 

Workers also replaced enough conduit—used to power and control portions of McCarran’s airfield lighting system—to stretch the equivalent of nearly from London to Nice, France.

The runway job included recycling all of the asphalt, unreinforced concrete, electrical cable, and scrap metal removed from the work site. 

Minimal disruption

Logistics was both the biggest challenge and the biggest achievement for Bechtel. The project team had to complete the vast McCarran complex during the past three decades while minimizing interference with passengers and daily operations.

Staying safe and saving money

The project teams worked millions of job hours without a lost-time incident while value engineering experts figured out ways to save tens of millions of dollars with new and different approaches to designing and building.

Role of technology

To boost efficiency and cut waiting times in Terminal 3, Bechtel and McCarran staff incorporated the latest aviation technology, such as:

  • Common-use systems that enable airlines to time-share facilities
  • New self-boarding gates that speed boarding
  • Automated aircraft docking systems that enable pilots to precisely align aircraft with a passenger loading bridge, requiring minimal ramp-staff support
  • More than 1,100 LCD and LED screen display signage for wayfinding, passenger information, and airline branding 

The transformation of Las Vegas from "a dusty, isolated desert town" to the fastest-growing city in the United States—a worldwide tourist destination—can largely be attributed to aviation, wrote Daniel Bubb, author of Landing in Las Vegas: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Tourist City. 

Bubb credits the "symbiotic relationship between airlines, the city, and the airport, facilitated by the economic democratization and deregulation of the airline industry, the development of faster and more comfortable aircraft, and the ambitious vision of Las Vegas city leaders and casino owners."