NewsLocal News


Denver, Durango airports get millions to upgrade terminals, baggage systems

$60 million will go to replacing DIA's baggage handling system
denver international airport baggage
Posted at 3:53 PM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 20:21:07-04

DENVER – Denver International Airport and Durango-La Plata County Airport will receive a total of $63 million – most of it going to Denver – in federal grant money to upgrade their baggage system and terminals.

The money is part of $1 billion the Biden administration is sending to 85 airports across the U.S. with money approved in the infrastructure bill last year under the Airport Terminal Program – one of three aviation-related programs created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Colorado is expected to get about $430 million total for its airports over the next five years because of the law. The Airport Terminal Program provides $1 billion each year over five years.

Denver International Airport is receiving the second-largest grant in this round out of any airport in the country. It will get $60 million that will go to terminal upgrades and replacing the baggage system TSA uses to screen bags before they are loaded onto planes, which the airport said is at the end of its life.

The airport said the equipment will be able to process bags more quickly as passenger counts at DIA continue to grow. The airport says it currently screens about 12,000 bags per hour, making the grant money crucial for upgrades.

A Denver International Airport spokesperson said the airport expects the replacement of the full system to take about five years because the equipment will have to be replaced in small sections at a time.

“As DEN prepares for 100 million passengers in the next 8-10 years, upgrades and improvements to the airport’s existing infrastructure will be essential,” an airport spokesperson said. “These grant funds will make a significant impact on our progress towards improving infrastructure and preparing for the future.”

The Durango-La Plata County Airport will get $3.2 million to increase capacity and ADA compliance at the airport terminal and improve energy efficiency. The terminal rehabilitation program including an additional 3,300 square feet of post screening area and the addition of one new gate to accommodate more planes and passenger traffic.

“Not one American airport ranks among the top 25 in the world, and we feel those shortcomings so often when we fly,” Buttigieg said. “Americans ought to have the best airports in the world and now we have a chance to move toward that with these funds.”

The FAA said 532 airports submitted applications for project funding but only 85 got rewarded grant money. Logan Airport in Boston is getting $62 million and Orlando International Airport in Florida are getting $50 million; Washington Dulles is getting $49.6 million; and Pittsburgh International Airport is getting $20 million.

“We are excited to be a part of this historic funding bill that is helping update infrastructure across the country and funding critical projects to modernize airports,” said Denver International Airport CEO Phil Washington, who was nominated by President Joe Biden on Wednesday to be the next Federal Aviation Administration administrator. “This funding goes a long way in helping to prepare DEN to serve 100 million annual passengers in the next eight to 10 years.”

Both of Colorado’s U.S. senators, Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, applauded the funding for both airports. Rep. Diana DeGette, the Democrat who represents Denver, called it a “big win for our city.”

“This bipartisan infrastructure law funding will help DIA and DRO continue to effectively serve Colorado’s growing communities and bolster our state’s economy,” Bennet said in a statement.