The busiest airport in the Washington region is about halfway through a $3 billion construction project.
By 2009, officials at Dulles International Airport hope to finish part of a subway system, one of two new runways, a larger control tower, more gates and possibly a new concourse.
This month, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to release the draft environmental impact statement on plans for the runways, taxiways and concourse. The FAA has been looking at the need for the runways, their design and possible locations, as well as potentially not building them. Noise is a big concern.
"More planes will create more noise," said Tom Sullivan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. But, he said, land-use patterns around Dulles "give us a buffer zone so the loudest noise will stay on the airport property."
The authority said it hopes that the three-year environmental review will end this year and that work can start on one runway in 2006. Planes could be taking off from the 9,500-feet north-south runway by 2008.
"You're going to have three aircraft all at the same time coming in for landings, and now we can only have two," Sullivan said.
Dulles has almost 470,000 takeoffs and landings a year, with nearly 569,000 anticipated by 2010.
If approved, the new Concourse C would be built behind the current Concourse C/D, which was meant to be temporary when it went up in the 1980s.
The new three-level concourse would have more space for seating, walking, offices and shops. The new building would be able to handle 44 aircraft, including some of the largest planes that can carry about 600 passengers. A subway would connect travelers from the terminal to the concourses.
The airport opened two garages with a combined 8,500 spaces in 2002 and 2003.
Last year, four gates were added to Concourse B, and a walkway was opened between the main terminal and the concourse, providing an alternative to boarding mobile lounges. The unique vehicles, which carry passengers between the terminal and concourses, will eventually be replaced by the airport subway.
No grand openings are planned for this year, but Sullivan said work will continue on the subway, a dozen more gates and a control tower that will top 325 feet -- nearly twice the size of the current one.
The airport is on track to surpass 2003's traveler numbers, with about 23 million people passing through last year. The airport could handle more than double that when all the projects are finished.