If you’ve ever traveled through the far west gate at SAN (Gate 51 in Terminal 2, to be precise), you may have noticed the glass bridge connecting the airport terminal to the waiting aircraft. This Passenger Boarding Bridge, or PBB, is not only unique to SAN, but also to other airports in the U.S.
The glass portion of the boarding bridge, which is 90 feet long, is one of the only glass passenger boarding bridges in the U.S. Because we needed this bridge to be so long--in order to span two massive underground sewer treatment pipes--our Airport Design & Construction team found an alternative design that would provide a better customer experience for travelers. Rather than build one, long dark passenger bridge, we constructed a glass bridge designed to let in the bright, San Diego sun.
The process to build a glass bridge was not as simple and straightforward as one might expect. Due to U.S. Fire Codes--which differ from European Codes that allow for more of these glass bridges overseas--we needed special approval from the City of San Diego Fire Marshal to construct the bridge using an alternative material. Fortunately, through extensive coordination efforts between the Airport Authority, the City of San Diego Building Department, and the Fire Marshal, we were able to obtain the necessary permission in 2011 to build this unique glass bridge.
Fast forward to 2021. The long glass bridge at Gate 51 not only gives travelers a glimpse of San Diego and the airfield, but--due to its greater length--it also makes it more enjoyable for them to take their time and practice social distancing while getting on or off the plane during COVID. After all, who wouldn’t want to walk just a tiny bit slower so they can spend a bit more time with such views!