By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver International Airport CEO Kim Day said Wednesday, “There will be some pain” ahead for DIA travelers. It’s as airport officials said they are hoping the Great Hall Project is completed before the end of 2024 — three years behind the original schedule.

A look at the Great Hall Project under construction at Denver International Airport

A look at the Great Hall Project under construction at Denver International Airport (credit: CBS)

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“The worst is right now,” Day told CBS4. “I promise you it will get better.”

Her comments followed a meeting with a Denver City Council committee which has oversight of the airport. DIA administrators asked the council committee to approve five new contracts totaling $136 million, all of those contracts carrying a maximum timeline running until Dec. 31, 2024.

The council committee voted to forward the contracts onto the entire city council for a vote.

DIA’s Chief of Staff, Cristal DeHerrera, said of the Great Hall renovation, “It will be completed in 2024.”

(credit: CBS)

The renovation project, which began in 2018, was originally slated to be completed in 2021. Concerns about concrete in the terminal slowed the project down as did bickering and disagreements between DIA administrators and the original contractor, Great Hall Partners.

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In August, the city of Denver terminated the GHP contract “for convenience” and airport officials will take over the construction and management of the project Nov. 12. They say they cannot pinpoint precisely when the job will be done, but seemed to have settled on 2024 as their latest target date.

They also told council members they will stay within their initial $770 million budget. Day and other airport administrators said they are still negotiating with Great Hall Partners, but believe the airport will ultimately have to pay GHP between $170 million and $210 million to settle claims over the contract termination.

(credit: CBS)

The terminal redevelopment is aimed at addressing capacity issues, moving security checkpoints and a desire to create more retail space.

Council member Amanda Sawyer told DIA officials she hears from her constituents who say the passenger experience at the airport currently “stinks,” and asked what was being done to address it.

Kim Day, Denver International Airport CEO (credit: CBS)

Day said beginning next week, there would be new signage in the terminal, additional employees to help guide passengers and areas outside the terminal where passengers can check their bags and get boarding passes. Day said the airport was built to handle 50 million passengers, but may have 70 million this year, contributing to the chaotic and disjointed feel.

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Councilman Kevin Flynn said airport officials taking over the project that was already underway was like ”changing the tires on a moving car.”

Brian Maass