Major renovation of main terminal at DIA takes flight next year

DENVER -- It’s been 22 years since Denver International Airport rose from the dusty Eastern Plains of our state.

And now, the city says it’s close to an agreement that will modernize DIA’s main terminal. But it comes at a big cost.

The city says the renovations are necessary—not just for comfort—but security.

The Great Hall Project will be funded through a private-public partnership that starts construction next summer and will take three years to complete.

“I’m picking up my daughter,” says Ellen Moser of Greeley, while sitting in DIA’s Jeppesen Terminal.

A major remodel of the terminal sounds like music to her ears--and not just because of a repertory orchestra performing an impromptu concert.

Her bag of nuts for lunch shows a lack of concessions here.

But not for long.

The significant renovation project calls for a tripling of shops and restaurants.

“That sounds like a good deal to me there’s not a whole lot right through here,” says Moser.

The transformation of the terminal captured in an animated video will consolidate airline ticket counters.

The airport says airlines don’t need as much space since more passengers check in online and use airport kiosks.

“It’s been around for 20, 21 years, so it could use a little sprucing up. But moving around the security? I think they do a good job right now,” says one visitor.

But the airport says that job becomes more difficult without improvements.

DIA was built to serve 50-million people a year.

Last year, nearly 59-million people traveled through--and it’s only getting busier.

So, the remodel would move the two main security checkpoints upstairs to the sixth floor.

The airport says this will not only move people through security up to 70-percent faster because of state-of-the art technology, but makes the area more secure.

Once through security, passengers travel down a floor to what’s now public space, where today we find visitors waiting to pick up travelers.

“It sounds very inconvenient, incredibly inconvenient for people like me who are picking people up all the time,” says Katie Christiansen of Fort Collins.

But the airport says while the new meet-and-greet area won’t be as big, it will be much nicer with more food and drink options, comfortable seating and a play area for the kiddos.

The city and its private partners will share the cost of design and construction which could cost between $650 and $775-million--but more than $1-billion over the 30-plus years of the contract.

The airport presents its plan to a city council committee July 26.

DIA is working other projects that would add 30 gates by 2020, widen Pena Boulevard and add a seventh runway.