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DIA gives overview on last phase of Great Hall project

Denver International Airport said the last phase of the project is projected to cost about $1.3 billion.

DENVER — The final phase of Denver International Airport (DIA)'s Great Hall Project will include finishing the northeast-side security checkpoint, creating new ticketing pods for several airlines, and refreshing the airport's baggage claim and curbside area.

Phil Washington, DIA's chief executive officer, and other airport officials gave that overview of Phase 3 of the project on Thursday morning.

The final phase is projected to cost $1.3 billion and is expected to break ground late next year with completion by 2028, officials said.

The Denver City Council's business committee on Wednesday voted in favor of four contracts covering $1.2 billion of the project, Washington said. The full City Council still must vote on the contracts.

RELATED: DIA seeks additional $1.2 billion to finish Great Hall project

The Great Hall project started in 2018 to renovate DIA's main Jeppesen Terminal. DIA celebrated the completion of Phase 1 in October, after the project was plagued early on by issues related to contractors, budget and timing.

Washington and Michael Sheehan, DIA's senior vice president of special projects, said the airport's increase in passengers makes the project necessary. DIA was built for 50 million passengers per year but is projected to see more than 70 million next year.

"DEN is growing," Sheehan said. "It’s only to get more expensive and take more time the longer we wait."

According to DIA, Phase 3 will include:

  • Completing a security checkpoint on the northeast side of Level 6. When this checkpoint is done, both checkpoints on Level 5 will be moved to Level 6. Enhanced technology will increase capacity by more than 60%.
  • New ticketing pods for all remaining airlines, similar to what Southwest Airlines and United Airlines received in Phase 1. (While these are built, check-in for those airlines will move to the center section of Level 5.)
  • Renovating the 26-year-old baggage claim and curbside areas.
  • Renovating restrooms, elevators and escalators.
  • A Center of Excellence and Equity in Aviation to be built in the Hotel and Transit Center.

The Center of Excellence, which is projected to cost about $40 million, would educate youths about careers in aviation and be a focal point for training, best practices and innovation in the industry, Washington said.

He pointed out worker shortages across the industry, including with pilots.

"We see this as thinking out of the box on how to grow our own in this industry," Washington said. "If we don’t do this as an industry, we will be faced with tremendous shortages in the aviation space."

DIA plans to stay with the same primary contractor for Phase 3, Denver-based Hensel Phelps Construction. Bidding out the final phase would add at least 18 months to the process, Washington said.

Sheehan said numerous parts of the project will be up for bidding and, "Everyone in this community will get their opportunity for a bite at the apple."

The final phase is expected to create 6,500 direct jobs, 500 indirect jobs and 1,300 induced jobs, DIA said.

Finding for the project will come from revenue generated at the airport, not from taxpayers, according to DIA.

Phase 1 of the Great Hall project focused on Level 6 of the airport and also included upgraded restrooms and 16,000 square feet of new space for passenger flow and security. Phase 2 of the project started in July.

"We feel like this is the best time to finish what we started," Washington said. "This terminal and this airport is 26 years old, and it’s showing signs of age. A new terminal sets us up for the next 20 or 30 years."

RELATED: Phase 1 of DIA's Great Hall Project is now complete

RELATED: Phase 2 improvements begin on DIA Great Hall

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