More gates and capacity supporting airline growth, better use of space, enhanced connectivity and passenger experience, and modernization of facilities are some of the reasons why the IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program (ITRP) is essential to Houston’s future as an international city!
On June 17, the Houston City Council’s Economic Development Committee (EDC) was briefed on the continuing progress of the Program, which will provide a world-class experience for millions of passengers each year. Through the impacts of COVID-19, ITRP has continued to move forward. Because of a significant decrease in air traffic due to COVID-19, ITRP has the opportunity to move forward with potentially less complex phasing and logistics considerations involving aircraft and passenger movements around the construction activities.
After introductory remarks by Houston Airports Director Mario Diaz at the EDC meeting, Steven Andersen, Executive Program Manager for ITRP, gave a comprehensive Program update.
Diaz and Andersen were joined by J’Maine Chubb (Chief Financial Officer), Bob Barker (Chief Development Officer), Todd Curry (Executive Staff Analyst), Mayuri Bhakta (Senior Staff Analyst), and Jason McLemore (Deputy Assistant Director, Office of Business Opportunity).
EDC Chair Martha Castex-Tatum, District K representative, facilitated the meeting. Diaz prefaced Andersen’s remarks with a Program summary.
“The last time we made a presentation, we had just finished schematic design,” Diaz said. “We are now well into design development which means that we’re beyond the 35 percent of design. The design development we expect to conclude around August [for the Central Processor and Federal Inspection Project], and we’ll be around 60 percent of design when we finish that up.
“You’ll see an evolution of design that is dramatic and I think will be very much appreciated.”
Andersen’s presentation consisted of a three-part update:
- The design itself – what it will look like, what it will feel like, the space it will have, and the aesthetic touches that exemplify the best of Houston
- Photographs that chronicle the demolition of Terminal Old C North
- Upcoming authorizations related to the Program that will require Council approval in prior to the end of the calendar year
Andersen reiterated that the need for ITRP arose because of the tremendous international airline growth George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) has experienced over the years.
“We have nearly doubled the amount of foreign flag carriers [currently 19],” Andersen said. “That, in turn, along with the aging of assets has driven the need for expansion and updating of the international terminal.”
The overall ITRP scope is comprised of two large projects making up the International Terminal Complex and enabling projects. The International Terminal Complex is comprised of:
- The International Terminal – North Concourse Project. This is comprised of two parts – the refurbishment and re-life of the existing Terminal D facility and the demolition and construction of the New MLIT D West Concourse.
- The International Terminal - Central Processor (ICP) and Federal Inspection Services (FIS) Project. This is comprised of the demolition of the existing Terminal D-E Garage, roadway modifications and construction of the new International Central Processor (ICP) building. In addition, there will be modifications to the existing Federal Inspection Services (FIS) building.
These two projects are preceded by the following enabling works and projects:
- Infrastructure Division Office (IDO) Building enabling project, completed in April 2019, which provides collocation, integration and collaboration for the HAS Infrastructure, ITRP team, designers and contractors to deliver the Program.
- Enabling Utilities – Landside enabling project
- International Terminal North Concourse – enabling works for the D-West pier Apron and Utilities scope
- MLIT – International Terminal Central Processor (ICP) – enabling works for the demolition of existing Terminal D-E Garage and other advanced civils and baggage systems scope.
Andersen discussed several of the projects at length and expressed his genuine excitement at the efficiencies they would bring, as well as the aesthetic beauty and openness.
Highlights of the International Terminal Complex include a new International Terminal processor, a New D West Pier, and a new Baggage Screening Building, along with renovations of the International Arrivals Corridor, and the MLIT North Concourse (Terminal D).
Andersen also pointed out to the EDC the visionary nature of the Program planning. “You will also notice that the design incorporates future safeguarding for expansion with a Central and an East pier when passenger and flight traffic grows and we outgrow the existing gate capacity that we have,” Andersen said. "ITRP is meant for the present with the future squarely and firmly in mind."
Andersen said that the ITRP was being designed with sustainability in mind. He talked about the thought and effort that went into the design for many “beautiful open spaces,” lots of natural light, state-of-the-art restrooms, and much more.
As Houston Airports is intentional with regard to social and environmental consciousness, Andersen said that more than 200 truckloads of concrete were removed from the Old C North demolition site, segregating the rubble for the steel and the concrete for recycling.
Upcoming Council actions include design and early works construction fees, Program Management Support Services fees, and other approvals necessary to continue to advance.
Diaz concluded by discussing the future of air travel in a world adjusting to the COVID-19 carnage as well as continuing to mitigate and manage potential threats to security.
“Airlines and airports across the country recognize that a key to success in the future is going to depend on a touchless or near-touchless airport environment,” Diaz said. “That is an environment where a passenger comes in and they don’t need to touch anything. They bring in their bags, and with facial recognition they won’t even need their boarding pass because their face is their boarding pass – the system will recognize you.”
Essentially, Diaz said, the passenger boarding experience will go “from start to finish without touching anything.”
Diaz acknowledged the plunge of the airport and airline industry but noted that Houston Airports is on the upswing and is even exceeding recent forecasts as it rebounds, serving about 12,000 passengers a day in mid-June.
The $1.3 billion Program concludes in early 2025 with the International Processor opening at the end of 2024.