Editor’s note: This story has been updated to change the timeframe for new gates, after a clarification from airport representatives.
DENVER (KDVR) – Major changes are coming to the third-busiest airport in the nation.
Passenger traffic has reached an all-time high at Denver International Airport, with more than 36.5 million travelers going through so far this year. Now the airport needs to expand to meet the growth.
The airport is projecting 78 million passengers by the end of 2023 and 100 million passengers annually by 2027. But the airport is only designed to serve 50 million a year.
“We’re on this accelerated timeline to keep up with the growth,” airport CEO Phil Washington said.
More travelers means longer security lines, which is why a new checkpoint is being added. It will include new technology to help move people through faster.
“We believe that it will ease a lot of the security wait times and we are preparing for that opening right now,” Washington said.
The west security checkpoint will open in February, and at that point, north security will close so it can be upgraded.
At the same time, the existing concourses will be getting a bit of a facelift.
“That includes the carpet in some areas. That includes restrooms and the existing concourses. We have already started the design of the new restrooms, or the restrooms refresh,” Washington said.
A big issue right now at the airport is trouble with the train. The airport’s CEO said that is being addressed right now, and there should be some relief soon.
“We have new cars on order. Those new cars will begin to come in next year in the spring, summer or fall of next year,” Washington said.
New platforms are also in the works, but there is no timeline for that right now.
The airport also unveiled its master plan Wednesday, which leaders are calling “Operation 2045.”
It is a huge project that includes a new terminal and additional concourses that will add 60 gates in 20 years, plus a new processing center that will allow passengers to walk to the gates instead of taking the trains. Parking will also be added, Washington said.
The two new concourses that are added as part of that plan will eventually brings 50 more gates to the airport.