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Plans for a new concourse at Dulles International Airport move forward

It’s the first of several proposed upgrades, officials say

An artist’s rendering of the proposed 14-gate concourse at Dulles International Airport. (Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority)
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A new 14-gate concourse at Dulles International Airport could open as soon as 2026 under plans outlined Wednesday.

Members of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Board of Directors received their first official briefing on the $674.7 million project, which would be the most significant upgrade to the airport in more than a decade. The planned 400,000-square-foot building would replace the single-story structure that handles regional and commuter flights at Dulles.

Passengers who now fly out of Concourse A use outdoor, ground-level, covered walkways to board flights leaving from regional A gates. In the new concourse, those gates would be replaced with jet bridges in a building with other amenities, including a pet-relief area, new restrooms, concessions and larger seating areas.

“This project is part of our effort to create the airport of the future and to continue providing top-quality service for the traveling public in the years ahead,” MWAA chief executive Jack Potter told board members.

Airport officials eye a new 14-gate concourse for Dulles

The project would be funded by a combination of bonds or by tapping funds received from the 2018 sale of 424 acres adjacent to Dulles, known as the Western Lands.

However, airport officials are hoping to offset some of the reliance on bond-related debt by seeking grants made available to airports through the infrastructure law President Biden signed last year. The airports authority last month filed an application seeking $230 million from a competitive grant program managed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Airport officials said they also will seek additional funding from other airport-focused grant programs.

The proposed concourse would be built atop an existing AeroTrain stop, which would eliminate the need for passengers to walk long distances or take a shuttle bus to their gates. The AeroTrain is Dulles’s automated train system, built during the airport’s last major upgrade as part of a $3.4 billion package of projects that expanded the main terminal, and added a fourth runway, a new control tower and other elements.

Airport officials already have completed federally required environmental studies, which they hope will provide an edge as they compete with other airports for funding. The evaluations required by the National Environmental Policy Act are designed to ensure that agencies have evaluated the environmental, social and economic effects of a project.

Potter said the new concourse is the first of several projects planned at Dulles as it looks to revise its master plan for development. The plan was last updated in 1985.

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As part of that process, he said the public will be invited to an open house later this month to ask questions about the airport’s future.

The authority completed a $1 billion package of upgrades at Reagan National Airport last year, including a 14-gate concourse to replace the infamous Gate 35X, which required travelers to be bused to their aircraft.