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A man points to a poster board showing an airport facility.
Denver International Airport CEO Phil Washington points to a rendering of the planned construction, which will include four more concourses and another processing center with ticket counters and security areas. (Clare Zhang, The Colorado Sun)

Denver International Airport expects to add four new walkable concourses with 100 total gates by 2045 to accommodate double the number of passengers passing through the airport today.

The airport is now the third busiest in the nation. In June, the airport logged a record 6.7 million passengers and that traffic will only continue to increase, CEO Phil Washington said Wednesday at a news briefing.

The new concourses, with 25 gates each, are part of the airport’s plan to prepare for when they expect to receive 120 million people passing through every year. The 28-year-old airport was originally designed to handle 50 million, and the expected number for this year is 78 million.

“I think it has surprised the entire country,” Washington said. “People have made a decision to travel, even though there may be a slight downturn in the economy.”

The four concourses will branch off Jeppesen Terminal, two on the north end and two on the south. Renderings of the project show the new concourses extending out into current economy short-term airport parking areas.

Travelers won’t need to rely on the train to get to the new gates. There will also be additional ticket counters and security areas to handle more passengers.

An aerial view of an airport showing gray concourses surrounded by planes.
Renderings from a news briefing Wednesday show the new concourses, which are walkable from the terminal and extend out into current short-term airport parking areas. (Photo provided by Denver International Airport)

Washington did not discuss a timeline or budget for the project. His communications staff did not respond to requests for the information.

The construction will be accompanied by a “refresh” of the existing concourses, Washington said, including the carpets and restrooms. They also plan to move the rental car facility to a location south of Peña Boulevard that is closer to the terminal.

Additionally, companies have put forward various ideas for constructing pedestrian walkways to connect the three existing concourses. Airport officials are analyzing the feasibility of these ideas based on their costs, Washington said.

The airport’s Gate Expansion Program, which began in May 2018 and finished November 2022, added 39 gates and increased overall airport capacity by 30%, according to airport officials. The budget for the expansion was originally $1.5 billion, but increased to $2.3 billion to cover the cost of relocating airlines to other gates, which airport officials did not anticipate.

Increased capacity will allow the airport to continue to expand air service, Washington said. DIA recently added nonstop flights to Ireland and Mexico, and officials are pursuing direct flights to Africa.

“It is our responsibility as infrastructure professionals to prepare for the next generation of passengers that come through here,” Washington said.

The airport is wrapping up construction on the west security checkpoint, which will have 17 lanes and is expected to put 100 more passengers through every hour than the existing checkpoints. The checkpoint will permanently open Feb. 6. Once it starts running smoothly, the north security checkpoint on level five will close for construction of the new east security checkpoint, which is expected to last 18 to 24 months. Both checkpoints are part of the airport’s $2.1 billion terminal expansion project, to be completed by 2028.

Clare Zhang is The Sun's Medill School of Journalism fellow for fall 2023. She has covered campus news, local politics, arts and sports for the Daily Northwestern. She has also interned at the Better Government Association, a nonprofit news...