In next few months, expect to see the wrecking balls and other heavy equipment arriving at Reagan National Airport as officials prepare for an ambitious $1 billion revamp.
The project, which includes construction of a new concourse for short-hop flights and new security screening areas, is the first major construction project at the airport in two decades.
Airport officials have dubbed the revamp: “Project Journey” (yeah, I know).
On Wednesday, the board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which manages both National and Dulles International airports, got a look at a new video that showcases the new building. They also bid goodbye to the boxy white building that has served as authority’s corporate headquarters. There may have been a bit of nostalgia in the board room, but nobody shed any tears.
The project is expected to be completed in 2021.
The new commuter concourse will replace the infamous Gate 35, a notorious choke point where travelers — in sun, rain, or snow — are required to board buses to get to their planes. The new concourse will be adjacent to Terminals B and C on the airport’s northern end. The project also will bring changes to National Hall, the main, glass-enclosed walkway on the concourse level. Security screening will be moved upstairs to the airport’s arrival level, closing the hall off to the general public.
The design of the new concourse will mimic the color scheme seen in the rest of the airport with floor to ceiling windows and views of the Potomac River.
The project has long been on National’s list of needed improvements but was put off for years, in part because it was difficult to get airlines to agree on a plan and to determine how to pay for it. In the late 1990s, then-USAir announced plans to build a $16.2 million commuter terminal at the airport, but 15 months after winning approval, the airline scrapped the project because of financing difficulties. This new effort will be paid for by the airlines, not taxpayers.
The project also will include road improvements and a new parking garage.
Since some of the work will require blocking traffic lanes, much of it will be done at night. Crews will have to pack up their equipment after each shift to allow for traffic flow — not the most efficient way to work, but the only way to ensure smooth flow during National’s busiest hours.