On Dulles Airport's concourse route, 'C' stands for 'calorie-burning'

The Dulles terminal, circa 1963.
The Dulles terminal, circa 1963.
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By John Kelly
Sunday, February 20, 2011

What's up with the "temporary" nature of the C/D concourses at Dulles International Airport? My question stems from the fact that the "C Gates" stop on the new AeroTrain is nowhere near the C Concourse. After a bit of research, I learned that the current C/D concourses are temporary and have been for 25 years. So, we are likely to have this "temporary" situation for another 20 years.

Is there some contention between the airports authority and United, the concourse tenant? And wouldn't it make sense to build a new concourse, instead of a "train to nowhere"?

- Roger Wilson,

Falls Church

Just think how healthy we all would be if, when taking public transportation, we went 1,000 feet beyond our destination and then hoofed it back. That's the case at Dulles. That's because the C Gates AeroTrain station was built where the C Concourse will go, not where it is now.

Why not build a temporary station? "That would have been very fiscally irresponsible," said airport spokeswoman Tara Hamilton. "We were building for the permanent future of Dulles. That's why we did build the moving walkways to take you back to Concourse C."

Expansion plans at Dulles were thrown for a loop by the Sept. 11 attacks, when airlines were left reeling and the funding picture was cloudy. The plan is to eventually eliminate the mobile lounges that lumber, dinosaur-like, across the Dulles tarmac, but there is no timetable as yet for a permanent Concourse C and D.

Both Hamilton and a United spokesman said there is no dispute about the funding.

"There's not any contention," Hamilton said. "It's just the matter of the best timing. There's a whole budgetary process. We have to determine when the best time is to go to the bond market and sell bonds."

She added: "You basically line up your capital projects and make sure you're getting one before getting another."

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