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The legacy of Lindbergh in San Diego

San Diego International Airport, dedicated in 1928, is also known as Lindbergh Field: a tribute to Charles Lindbergh, whose Spirit of St. Louis was designed, built, and tested at Dutch Flats in San Diego.

San Diego Airport Taxiway and Roadway

San Diego Airport Taxiway and Roadway

San Diego Airport Taxiway and Roadway

San Diego Airport Taxiway and Roadway


Located only two miles (3.2 kilometers) from downtown San Diego, today the airport is the busiest single-runway airport in the US, and the second busiest in the world (the first being Gatwick in the UK).

To handle this demand, the airport is currently completing the $1 billion Green Build program, which includes 10 new gates on Terminal 2, and is embarking on the development of the North Side, including the construction of a new Fixed Based Operation (FBO) facility and a 4-story Rental Car Center garage. Because it was originally constructed on fill materials, poor subgrade conditions exist throughout the airport, including the Terminal Link Road alignment and the FBO Taxiway.

During construction, it was necessary to protect nesting areas of the California Least Tern, a federally endangered subspecies found in bays and lagoons in Southern California and northern Mexico. It was also necessary to avoid interfering with the nearby FAA Instrument Landing System Localizer and Distance Measuring Equipment antennae.


As part of the North Side development program, Mott MacDonald is serving as the prime consultant for a taxiway to the FBO and the Terminal Link Roadway, which will provide a dedicated airside/landside bus rapid transit link between the airport’s terminals and the future Rental Car Center garage.

The designs include utilities, drainage, airport fences, four security gates, traffic signals, landscaping, widening of a 6-lane arterial highway, parking lot modifications, a new US Coast Guard taxiway access gate, and the relocation of 250 feet (76 meters) of jet blast deflector.

Designs were created in 3D using BIM technology, and underground utilities were mapped in 3D. These include water quality measures and Standard Urban Stormwater Mitigation Plan (SUSMP) applications. To cope with poor subgrade conditions, we employed unique solutions to subgrade and trench stabilization.


With the help of cutting-edge modeling techniques, Mott MacDonald is helping San Diego Airport prepare for further expansion.

Precise planning helped avoid potentially hazardous interference with the airport’s landing systems, and protected the habitat of the California Least Tern.

The project required an unusual amount of third-party coordination, which we expedited by handling the coordination and permitting required by the California Coastal Commission, the FAA, City of San Diego, Port of San Diego, US Coast Guard, and San Diego Gas & Electric.

The FBO Taxiway is designed for Aircraft Design Group V (for example, Boeing 777 and Airbus A340) and will provide FBO access to the runway. The taxiway has been designed to allow for future expansion of the bypass taxiway.

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