Denver International Airport is one of the world’s largest airports, and it’s about to get even bigger. At the end of July, a contract was approved by Denver City Council to hire New York based WSP USA to manage a 26-gate expansion costing $45 million. Just two weeks later, Council OK’d a 30-year, $1.8 billion renovation and operation contract for the main terminal known as the Great Hall. These major construction projects come on the heels of a new 360-room Westin airport hotel inaugurated in 2015 and 23-mile light rail connecting the airport to Union Station downtown, which started running in spring of 2016.
According to DEN spokesperson, Heath Montgomery, the gate expansion is necessary for flight operations, “Airlines have requested additional gates, and we are able to respond to their needs. United, Southwest, and Frontier – all 3 are experiencing tremendous growth. We are better positioned to expand at incrementally lower cost because of good planning done almost 23 years ago.”
Contrasted with gate expansion, the Great Hall proposal was met with initial concern by airlines and some City Council members. According to Councilwoman Debbie Ortega, “The public-private or P3 model moves some of the risk. On one hand, the need to do some improvements is important to keep people safe. But I did have questions.” Ortega’s concerns included making the sure the city was listening to airport concerns about logistics and providing City Council members enough time and staff expertise to properly evaluate multiple contracts. “We had been asking for the contract and they brought me two boxes with 15,000 pages of addendums to the contract. It was really challenging to ensure adequate review, understanding and decision making.” Ortega continued, “Now that it’s done, they are proceeding. We now have to make sure we stay within budget and as things come up they are addressed immediately.” One of Ortega’s goal is to improve the City’s small business office to ensure better training for small businesses and businesses owned by people of color. She also wants to ensure those firms are included in DEN business opportunities.
DEN CEO Kim Day has guided the airport through the major expansion efforts of the last several years. She has been operating as the Mayoral appointed CEO since John Hickenlooper appointed her in 2008 and has continued under Mayor Hancock. In a statement she said, “The Great Hall project is critically important to ensuring the safety and success of Denver International Airport for decades to come. Although DEN remains the country’s youngest commercial airport, no one could have predicted how security and technology would fundamentally change the aviation industry and passenger processing over the last two decades. By investing in this project, we will prepare DEN for the future: enhancing security, increasing capacity, updating aging systems and elevating the overall passenger experience.”…Fuente: http://www.lavozcolorado.com/detail.php?id=9349