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By KEVIN SPEAR, The Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Rising from hundreds of acres south of the air-traffic tower at Orlando’s airport, and amid a raging pandemic, the new south terminal may be Central Florida’s biggest bet ever on its future.

Showcasing the airport’s trademarked “Orlando Experience,” the new terminal will emphasize for travelers that they have landed in a fantasy land under sunny skies, surrounded by water and draped in Florida landscape – all in an alluring, if not entirely real, presentation.

The vast expanse of skylights will be dappled with light filtering that admits sunshine but blocks heat.

A half-million square feet of terrazzo flooring will conjure the impression of shimmering, blue water and flowing springs.

And palms and cypress trees will accent the sight lines of the cavernous interior.

The largest trees will be synthetic but so well crafted that only an arborist would catch on, said Bill Brooks, Southeastern aviation leader at HNTB, the construction architect for the south terminal.

“What we can’t have is a one-size-fits-all generic airport, an ‘insert city name here,’ where people have no idea which airport they are in,” Brooks said.

The coronavirus pandemic has slashed traffic at the airport -- and the budget for the new terminal -- but it hasn’t doused expectations for the new project.

“We’ve seen ebbs and flows and this is certainly an ebb,” said airport director Phil Brown. “But unless the bottom falls out from under tourism in Central Florida, we will need the south terminal.”

The terminal is now 60% complete after more than two years of construction. Etched in bare steel and concrete are gates and concourses, an interior boulevard, ticket lobby, TSA’s checkpoint and a massive application of windows, skylights and digital entertainment.

Especially striking is how the new terminal is the opposite of the original in configuration. The existing terminal, arrayed in a spiderweb pattern, links its core of atriums, food court and hotel to four, outlying hubs of airline gates via eight shuttle-train tracks. It took nearly 30 years of construction and additions before the last of the original terminal’s 93 gates opened more than a decade ago.

By comparison, the new terminal is aligned in a straight walk to the west concourse, with a right turn and another straight walk for the north concourse. No shuttles are involved.

“All the lessons learned there over all these years we’ve deployed here,” said Davin Ruohomaki, the airport’s senior director of planning, engineering and construction, during a tour this month of the rising structure.

It’s current price is $2.7 billion, a sum reduced in response to the pandemic’s recession, but still more than the reconstruction of Interstate 4 through Orlando, the Wekiva Parkway, the Orange Convention Center, the Amway Arena or perhaps -- depending on the definition of a project -- more than any other single investment ever in the region.

The $2.7 billion price tag happens to match that of the Virgin Trains’ 170-mile extension of upscale passenger rail service being constructed now from West Palm Beach to the new terminal.

Unlike most, major public works, tax revenues – except for federal COVID-19 relief funds – will not underwrite the new terminal. The airport’s revenue for paying off building loans comes from a smorgasbord of rents and fees from airlines, rental cars, shops, restaurants and passenger tickets.

At 1.75 million square feet initially, the new terminal is to open in 2022 with 15 gates but has the space and options to expand to 120 gates, or 27 more than at the original terminal.

With the south terminal rising, and the luxury of four runways, Orlando International Airport has a capacity to grow to nearly 100 million passengers annually, Ruohomaki said.

That’s about as busy as the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta International, was until COVID-19 took hold.

Through February, with an increasing and overcrowded volume of nearly 51 million passengers annually, and ranking as the nation’s 10th-busiest airport, that was the heady direction for Orlando International.

At the end of March, with the onslaught of the pandemic and plunge in flights and passengers, the revenue smorgasbord shrank to crumbs. The airport’s finances have run millions of dollars into the red in recent months.

In response, the Greater Orlando Airport Authority reduced the terminal cost from more than $3 billion to $2.7 billion, and the number of gates from 19 to 15.

In its pared-down version, the terminal will have a capacity for nearly 12 million passengers annually.

Brown, the airport director, said the south terminal will be more capable of responding to health precautions than the existing terminal by better providing for social distancing and minimizing human interaction through touchless and facial-recognition technologies.

“There was a fundamental change you saw with 9/11, where there was an implementation of security, and now it’s going to be health,” Brown said. “There is a fundamental change in the way people are going to travel.”

Seen from the ninth floor of the original terminal’s parking garage, the new terminal is a mile away and part of a bigger assembly of buildings – the South Terminal Complex.

On the east end of the complex is the 500,000-square-feet “Intermodal Terminal Facility,” with its distinctively curvaceous, overlapping metal roof. It was completed in late 2017 at a cost of $446 million.

Within the facility is a train station. It will host Virgin Trains, which is to begin service from South Florida in 2022. Already operating in the facility is the “Automated People Mover” shuttles that connect the original and south terminals with a four-minute ride. There is space reserved for Central Florida’s 6-year-old SunRail commuter train, although hopes for a SunRail stop at the south terminal are suspended indefinitely for lack of funding.

In the center of the South Terminal Complex is a new, six-level parking garage with 3,689 spaces.

Filling out the west half of the South Terminal Complex is the new terminal.

From east to west, the South Terminal Complex spans more than a half-mile, a multimode transportation metropolis still under a forest of construction cranes.

But as complex as the South Terminal Complex skyline appears from afar, that’s not how it will be perceived by future passengers, said the terminal’s concept architect.

“We’ve tried to make it really easy to understand a building that doesn’t need a lot of signage,” said Curt Fentress, whose previous work includes Denver International Airport’s rooftop of towering, white peaks that evoke mountains and tepees. “We designed a building that will unfold in front of you as you walk into the building and through the building, expressing flora and fauna, light and sky.”

The defining experience for many travelers at the original terminal is the 90-second ride on a shuttle train to one of the four, outlying hubs of gates.

Pulling away from its platform, a shuttle train bursts into the outdoors amid tree tops, seemingly soaring over lakes and landscaping, showcasing what Fentress described as flora and fauna, light and sky.

At the new terminal, the shuttles are being replaced by the top floor’s “Boulevard” with walls and ceilings of windows. Passengers will walk, rather than ride.

Fentress’ firm calculated it will take about 17 minutes to walk from a Virgin train and about 11 minutes from the drop-off lanes to the farthest gate of the new terminal.

At the existing terminal, arriving passengers are routed into the windowless, low-ceiling second floor for baggage and local transportation.

At the new terminal, arriving passengers will remain on the top, third level under the skylights of the Palm Plaza and Boulevard. Baggage will come up to them via a high-speed tray system. Many arriving passengers will step out to the pick-up curb for a 54-foot overlook at the rest of the airport.

“The most important thing is when people arrive, that’s when they are excited,” said Brooks of HNTB. “When they leave they are tired and hopefully they spent all of their money here.”

The largest gathering areas at the existing terminal, including the atriums, hotel, restaurants and theme-park stores are in areas outside of TSA security.

At the new terminal, that will switch. The largest, most entertaining public spaces are inside the TSA security zone.

“People want to get through security as quickly at they can when they get to the airport and they want to enjoy things on the other side of security,” Brooks said. “Most of the concessions are out on the other side of security where people are spending most of their time.”

The new terminal will house a trio of digital displays, either floor-to-ceiling or several stories high: the “Windows on Orlando,” an “expansive panoramic reveal;” the “Moment Vault,” which will be “composed of three morphing garden-like walls;” and the “Portal,” a “3D suspended helix with both exterior and interior displays.”

What most passengers won’t readily appreciate, but airport officials often tout, is the new terminal’s dexterity for handling aircraft.

Every gate will take domestic and international flights, while at the existing terminal only a limited number of gates are equipped to accept flights from other countries, and they involve an awkward handling of baggage. Orlando International had been designed originally as a domestic airport.

All gates in the new terminal will have digital signage and will be shared interchangeably among airlines.

As Orlando International Airport is dominated by the low and ultra-low fare airlines preferred by tourists, the new terminal will provide the ability for those budget carriers to drop off arriving passengers, quickly push their planes to a remote station for cleaning and restocking, and then pull their jets back to a gate to take on departing passengers.

The idea is to churn as many budget-fare flights as possible for a better return on the expense of each gate.

“Before it was how many gates you have at your terminal, now it’s how quickly can you turn those gates around,” said Juan Carlos Arteaga, HNTB’s lead architect for the new terminal.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Sierra Skye Sizzles In Red Hot Bikini In New Photo

Sierra Skye has been offering a steady stream of flirty bikini pics on her Instagram feed lately, and in her newest post from today, she rocked a red hot swimsuit.

She struck the pose on what looked like a tan couch as she straddled the furniture and cast a sultry gaze towards the camera. She placed her hands on either side of herself, and her incredible physique was put on full show.

Her bikini had a classic cut with a triangle-style top and skimpy bottoms with straps that fell right on her hips. Her top featured a gold accent in the center, and she played it up with her matching accessories. These included a couple of necklaces, one that was especially prominent thanks to its large, chunky chain design. She also sported a thin chain around her waist, and her belly button ring peeked through. In addition, Sierra rocked a silver bracelet, multiple earrings, and a couple of rings.

The model wore her hair down in a side part with her blond highlights popping against her darker locks, and her soft waves were brushed partially in front of her left shoulder. Moreover, her light pink manicure contrasted well against her tanned skin.

Directly behind Sierra was a light wall with faint textured designs throughout, and there were also two neon signs with words. The one higher on the wall was lit up purple and read “dreams,” and the second one that was behind her back was unlit.

Notably, she promoted her personal website in the caption.

View this post on Instagram

Link in bio babiessss ????

A post shared by Sierra Skye (@sierraaaskyee) on Aug 2, 2020 at 12:35pm PDT

The snap has received over 64,600 likes in the past six hours and her fans had lots of nice compliments for her in the comments section.

“You are incredibly beautiful and very sexy and I like you very much,” declared a devotee.

“Sierra you are SEXY AF! Gorgeous and so Stunning,” gushed a second follower.

“Hot, sizzle, wow! A sexy island-girl look for sure!” observed a third supporter.

“The hotness is unreal,” declared another social media user.

Additionally, Sierra shared another bikini pic three days ago. That time, she rocked a blue leopard-print swimsuit with a top that was so small that a hint of her underboob was showing. She stood in an open doorway and played with her hair with her left hand as she tilted her head and gave a moody pout with her lips closed. She wore her hair up in a casual, messy bun and secured it with a white scrunchie.

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