DENVER (CBS4) – Denver City Council member Debbie Ortega, who sits on the council committee which oversees Denver International Airport, is pressing airport officials for answers about the newest delays in the terminal redevelopment project that she said she only learned about from an ongoing CBS4 Investigation.
“We learned about it from you guys,” Ortega said after seeing CBS4’s reporting on the latest 18 month delay in the Great Hall construction project.
On Tuesday, CBS4 reported the terminal project, which was supposed to be completed by 2021, has now been pushed back to 2023 due to ongoing questions and testing of the concrete in the airport terminal. Great Hall Partners, which manages the construction project, now estimates the delay at 551 days, up from an earlier estimate of about 300 days.
“We didn’t know until your story,” said Ortega.
Ortega sits on Denver City Council’s Business, Arts, Workforce and Aviation Committee, which has oversight of DIA.
On Thursday, two days after the news report, Ortega emailed Gisela Shanahan, the airport’s Chief Financial Officer, asking a series of questions about the lengthening delays.
“I am writing to ask if our Bond Counsel notified bond holders of the 18 month delay reported by (CBS4) this week. If so, when was this done? Can I assume we notified them when we learned about the structural integrity issue related to the concrete… I presume we didn’t know then what kind of impact this would have to the schedule of the Great Hall opening.”
Ortega followed that up several hours later by forwarding her questions to DIA Chief Executive Officer Kim Day and DIA Chief of Staff Cristal DeHerrera.
Ortega, who is an at-large council member, later told CBS4 she was caught off guard by what she learned from the CBS4 reporting.
“We don’t know what the cost is, don’t know what it means for the airlines and what is the impact on the traveling public? It is important to keep City Council informed.”
The massive $650-to-$770 million makeover of the terminal involves moving TSA checkpoints, improving passenger flow and adding new restaurants and shopping. The construction began in 2018.
But, the construction has been slowed by testing of the terminal’s 25-year-old concrete which raised questions about its integrity. That testing is ongoing and more results are expected this spring.
Stacey Stegman, Denver International Airport’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, told CBS4 the airport does not yet know the financial impact of the newest delays.
“The projected schedule represents the contractor’s estimates but does not include the airport’s review and analysis,” said Stegman.
In the latest construction report, Great Hall Partners suggested the delays could increase costs as “compensation events” related to the delays, which are now being discussed.
Alana Watkins, a spokesperson for Great Hall Partners, told CBS4,”We have no comment at this time.”
“We should be informed”, said Ortega.