Under Colorado: The secret tunnels of Denver International Airport

Every day, thousands of people at Denver International Airport walk over it as they're trying to catch their flights, and they have no idea what's right under their feet. 9NEWS at 7 a.m. 5/18/2016.

DENVER - There are so many rumors swirling around about what's under Colorado. 

Many residents have heard about a secret military city under Denver International Airport, even a government project on aliens down there.

Coloradans have heard about what it’s like inside the most famous underground military base in the world: Cheyenne Mountain.

There might be whisperings about tunnels under the Colorado State Capitol, used back in the day for lawmakers to escape gunslingers or to sneak prostitutes into the building.

And who can forget about a bunch of old missile silos supposedly scattered around the state?

9NEWS decided to put the rumors to rest by visiting these places and finding out what really happens Under Colorado.

On Monday, 9NEWS took viewers inside Cheyenne Mountain. On Tuesday, 9NEWS went underneath the Colorado State Capitol building. On Wednesday, 9NEWS answered the most questioned underground space in Colorado: Denver International Airport.

DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Every day, thousands of people at Denver International Airport walk over it as they're trying to catch their flights, and they have no idea what's right under their feet.

There have been many guesses, theories and rumors over the years. So, 9NEWS went down there to check it out.

The area under DIA is full of life, full of workers and full of vehicles. The first thing you notice is the space under DIA is huge. It's more than 1 million square feet with two, giant, 7,000-foot tunnels for moving luggage. It's really an underground city.

Like all "cities," there is a freeway system that sometimes gets jammed. Not with cars, but with tugs and carts moving luggage from plane to plane and to baggage claim. Like all freeways, there are lots of signs posted that tell you how to get where you are going.

It's patrolled by police who sometimes hand out speeding tickets. In the case of DIA, it's Denver Police trying to catch speeding tugs.

A ramp manager for Swissport -- the company that moves bags for Frontier -- says it can be really confusing.

"You come down here and if you don't know where you're going, you can literally be driving around in circles for hours," Alex Iglesia said. 

Iglesia said the reason bags sometimes aren't where they are supposed to be for a while is because of the confusing tunnels down there. Other times, he says, there is just lots of traffic and you get behind a slow driver -- just like a freeway.

The reason there are so many tugs and carts is because the original automated baggage system isn't used anymore. If you were around when the airport opened in 1995, you remember that system was supposed to be the most advanced system in the world. It cost hundreds of millions of dollars, had twisting tracks and conveyor belts and was run by computers. But it never really worked.

United used a part of the system until 2008, but then they scrapped the usage because of the $1 million-a-month maintenance cost. The old-school tugs and carts worked a lot better. 

Now, all that infrastructure, all the metal tracks and towers and belts just sit there.

For whatever reason, there have always been rumors and theories about what happens under DIA. Rumors such as:

  • A secret military base where they do psychological testing
  • Government project on aliens -- as in creatures from outer space
  • Secret city under the not-so-secret city where bags are moved

Sadly, the airport spokesperson said he has never seen anything to confirm any of those rumors. 9NEWS looked. We didn't either, but we know us reporting this will do nothing to convince the skeptics.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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