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DIA officials awaiting council approval on $1.3 billion to finish Great Hall project

Posted at 7:14 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2022-01-10 22:52:26-05

DENVER — With Phase 1 complete, Denver International Airport officials are asking for $1.3 billion to complete the work on the Great Hall project.

"We went to city council to amend the existing contracts," the airport's CEO Phil Washington said at Thursdays news conference.

Project manager Michael Sheehan said part of proposal would finish the TSA security checkpoint on the east side of the airport. He projects it would get 60% more passengers through the lines per hour.

The money would also upgrade ticket counters, like the new Southwest and United areas, for all airlines.

"All level six airlines will have the same check-in experience. They will all, at the end of the day, have self automated backdrops and the ticketing pods so you have quality throughout all airlines," Sheehan said.

Upgrades to baggage claim would cost $200 million.

"It's 26 years old. It’s showing its wear and tear, and so we’d like to replace the flooring, the ceiling grid, the lighting. We’d also do a curbside refresh on the exterior levels four, five and six," Sheehan said.

Washington said this Phase 3 proposal would create 6,500 jobs.

Of course, the job has come with its share of issues. Denver City Council approved a $1.8 billion deal in August 2017. In April 2019, weak concrete delayed the project completion by 18 months. In July 2019, DIA officials accused the contractor of breaching their contract claiming they interfered with airport activities. Work was halted and the contract was terminated by the end of the summer of 2019.

Work restarted just before the end of 2019. Phase 2 began in July 2021, months before Phase 1 was complete.

After a turbulent ride, Phase 1 was completed in the fall of this year.

Phase 2 is projected to be complete by mid-2024. If approved, Phase 3 would be complete in two parts. East side construction would be done in 2026, and the south end of DIA would be completed by summer of 2028.

Washignton said Phase 1 finished under budget, and Phase 2 is on time and on budget. Washington chose to stay with the same contractor that completed Phase 1. He said in doing so, the airport saved about $100 million and the potential of up to two years in delays.

Denver City Council has the final vote in January.

"It's essential to complete the full relocation and modernization of our TSA security screening areas, and the current contract and budget gets us only halfway there," City councilmember Kevin Flynn said. "While I am surprised by the cost of Phase 3, I will examine the scope of work and make my decision based on the value for cost."

DIA said in a statement said the $1.3 billion needed to complete the Great Hall project would "not be funded with taxpayer dollars, but rather by revenue generated at the airport."