Air Transport World

High noon in Denver; neither traffic reduction, local opposition nor Continental's uncertainty has deterred $2.4 billion airport development. (includes related article)

DENVER-The question is not whether the new Denver airport should be built. The question is, will Denver stop building a new airport, whose construction commenced in November, 1989? The answer: Not likely. So far, the tunnel for the underground automatic-ground-transportation system linking the central terminal to the flight concourses is nearly finished, as is the core of the white, domelike terminal building. Grading of the east-west runway (8-26), is 95% complete, while grading of two other runways is more than half-finished. The whole project is 20% complete.

Bids already have been sent out on three runways. Five full-service runways will be operational by opening day in October, 1993. A sixth runway, earmarked for international flights, will open in late 1994. Final development calls for 12 full-service runways by 2025.

Bids also have been sent out for the massive heating and air-conditioning plant and the terminal building, a multistory structure with a large central atrium covered by a stretched fabric roof that will admit natural light into most public areas. More than $900 million worth of contracts already have been awarded.

If all goes according to plan, the Denver International Airport DIA) will open with 97 full-service gates able to serve wide and narrowbody aircraft; 45 and 32 gates will go to United and Continental, respectively, 20 gates for everyone else, plus 29 commuter parking spaces. Long-term plan calls for more than 200 gates.

Just how big win DIA be? At 53 sq. mi., the airport will be twice the size of Manhattan. The surface area alone in the first phase is the equivalent of a single-lane highway stretching from Denver to Chicago. …

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