DIA’s terminal is in for more than 3 years of construction. Here’s how it will play out, and what to expect. | CraigDailyPress.com

DIA’s terminal is in for more than 3 years of construction. Here’s how it will play out, and what to expect.

Jon Murray/The Denver Post
Train passengers head to the platforms to take the RTD University of Colorado A Line train at Denver International Airport April 22, 2016. Big changes are coming to DIA over the next few years as part of the Great Hall Project renovations.
Andy Cross/The Denver Post

For frequent flyers, the massive renovation that kicks off next week below Denver International Airport’s iconic tented-roof terminal will mean three and a half years of detours around construction walls.

But amid varying levels of hassle for passengers, the $650 million Great Hall Project, which is intended in large part to keep up with record-setting growth in passenger traffic, will require a feat of conducting akin to a large orchestra. The renovation of nearly every public space in a very active building — a 1.5 million-square-foot structure that serves as the entry point to the nation’s fifth-busiest airport — demands meticulous coordination at every stage.

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Just consider the planned new security checkpoints.

By late 2020, project leaders estimate, the two large, snaking security lines that now dominate the lower level as an adaptation to the post-9/11 era, as well as an alternate screening point on the bridge to Concourse A, will be replaced by two modernized screening areas on the north ends of the upper floor, officially Level 6. The impetus is to make the screening lines themselves more secure and to adopt new screening setups and technology in use elsewhere that will speed up the flow.

But to make that possible, crews first need to dismantle the airline check-in counters that currently occupy those areas on the terminal’s east and west flanks. They also need to expand the floor area slightly into the building’s central atrium to make more room.

Before workers can do either of those things, however, they will need to rebuild the check-in counters that run the rest of the length of the terminal to the south — making it so that two-thirds of the current space, once reconfigured, can efficiently handle the airlines’ check-in needs.

When all is done, most passengers will leave a ticket counter, self-check-in kiosk or baggage drop on either side of the terminal, proceed north through one of the new security checkpoints, and then take a series of escalators down two levels to hop on the underground train to their plane.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

Denver International Airport’s $650 million renovation of the terminal building, photographed on July 5, 2018, is expected to last three and a half years. Several fast-food restaurants and other concessions have shut down in advance of the project.

“The project itself is huge,” said Stu Williams, the airport’s senior vice president of special projects. “It’s going to be three or three and a half years of disruption, but we’ll manage. We’ve got to do this: The terminal is beautiful as it is today, but the flow is somewhat disorganized.
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