DIA construction May 2020

Construction work being done on the Denver International Airport terminal in May 2020. 

Denver International Airport’s plan to move its main security checkpoint upstairs, broaden passenger capacity and expand its shops and restaurants — otherwise known as the Great Hall project — will have to be scaled back, airport officials revealed Thursday. 

“We committed that we would bring this project in on its budget of $770 million, so to do that, we are not going to be able to do everything that was shown in the original plan,” DIA CEO Kim Day told Denver City Council members Thursday during budget hearings.

The project, intended to secure the passenger screening areas, has been fraught with problems since just about ever taking flight. Last summer, DIA fired contractor Great Hall Partners after monthslong delays, reportedly from faulty concrete and repeated change directives. The fallout cost the airport nearly $184 million and put the project nearly three years behind schedule, at best.

Airport officials confirmed last month that only $170 million of the project’s budget remains, meaning the heart of the project — upper-level security screening areas and the redesign of some airlines’ check-in areas — may not get done. The financial revelation came in response to a Denver Post investigation that discovered the project was in jeopardy. 

DIA’s major airlines have made clear in the past that they aren’t on board with the renovation plans, taking aim at the revamped security checkpoints, project costs and overall investment soundness.

Airport chief of staff Cristal DeHererra told council members that DIA officials are having “very productive conversations” with airlines to make sure the proposed scalebacks work from an operational standpoint. 

The money used to finance the Great Hall comes from DIA’s capital plan, Day said, which wasn’t part of Thursday’s budget hearing discussion that focused on projected revenue and expenditures in 2021. 

However, airport officials will report specifically on the changes to the Great Hall project in front of the City Council’s Business, Arts, Workforce and Aviation Services Committee on Oct. 7, when they are likely to be met with tough questions. 

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