Denver City Council unanimously gave the green light Monday evening to five contract amendments, together worth more than a half-billion dollars, to accelerate the expansion of Denver International Airport’s three concourses by early 2022.

The $1.5 billion construction project, which first broke ground in May 2018 and will increase DIA’s gate capacity by 30%, will largely serve United and Southwest airlines, both of which have signed leases for most of the airport’s new gates.

“Now, in order to meet our commitment to the airlines, (DIA) must relocate airlines and build out the space for office and support needs as well as airline lounges,” airport officials recently wrote in a fact sheet prepared for council members.

The contract amendments give the airport the “flexibility to design and adapt the concourse program to take advantage of recession pricing as well as significant reduction in passenger traffic,” which has declined by more than 90% amid the coronavirus pandemic, airport officials have reported.

Moving forward with development plans, they say, is one area in which the airport can keep people working. The gate expansion project employs between 800 and 1,000 people every day, according to city documents.

When the project is completed, all three concourses are expected to feature “great amenities,” including outdoor patios with fire pits “for ambiance” and a relief area for traveling pets. Gate waiting areas will also be updated to include various seating options, from work spaces to bar stools. Restrooms and family restrooms will also be updated, and passengers will have more dining and shopping options near the new gates.

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, a recent analysis by credit rating giant Fitch Ratings found that DIA’s “unrestricted cash reserves alone are sufficient to meet debt service due through the end of the current calendar year.” The Denver Post reports that the airport is sitting on more than a billion dollars from bond proceeds and other sources. DIA is also eligible for up to $259 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act stimulus package, which will help cushion the blow of the outbreak.

The following DIA contract amendments were approved by the council Monday night:

• Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. (design): Amendment for $20 million, changing the contract from $65 million to $85 million.

• HNTB Corporation (design): Amendment for $20 million, changing the contract from $65 million to $85 million.

• Turner-Flatiron, Joint Venture (construction): Amendment for $240 million, changing the contract from $700 million to $940 million.

• Holder-Flatiron, Joint Venture (construction): Amendment for $265 million, changing the contract from $655 million to $920 million.

• WSP USA, Inc. (project management): Amendment for $15 million, changing the contract from $45 million to $60 million

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