The promise of enormous benefits to passengers is helping to drive the transformative initiative forward.
Nowadays, visitors at George Bush Intercontinental Airport are greeted daily with the distinctive sights and sounds of ongoing progress on the IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program (ITRP). That progress is coming via the crushing and crunching of heavy machinery that is clearing the path and creating the propulsion for an elite and technologically advanced international terminal which will greatly benefit passengers for decades to come.
The $1.36 billion ITRP has been called the most important expansion program in the 53-year history of Bush Airport. The ITRP scope is comprised of two large projects making up the International Terminal Complex along with various enabling projects including adding two additional levels to the Terminal C Parking Garage. The International Terminal Complex is comprised of:
The International Terminal – North Concourse Project. This consists of two parts – the refurbishment and re-life of the existing Terminal D facility; and the demolition and construction of the New Terminal D West Concourse.
The International Terminal - Central Processor and Federal Inspection Services Project. This includes 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.
“The ITRP is a multi-layered program that is being accomplished in a live operational environment,” said Travis Sanderfer, ITRP Executive Program Manager. “It includes updating the existing Mickey Leland International Terminal (MLIT) and constructing a new International Terminal Processor between Terminals D and E. This new area will consolidate baggage claims, security checkpoints and international ticketing counters. The completed international terminal will include two concourses and encompass passenger boarding, retail and dining.
“Houston Airports is creating unparalleled, state-of-the-art facilities for which the airport, the City of Houston, and world travelers can truly be proud. We are building facilities for our customers which will rank among the very best in the world. These are truly grand and majestic spaces to experience, and the magic of flight will be celebrated.”
Sanderfer said that many people don’t fully recognize the sheer scope, breadth, and depth of the ITRP.
He and several of the project managers recently provided updates on ITRP traffic planning as well as several key construction initiatives, including the Federal Inspection Services/International Central Processor construction, the Terminal D Relife/Refresh undertaking, and the Terminal D West Pier.
With regard to roadway planning, Sanderfer reiterated that Houston Airports is ever mindful of the passenger experience and fully committed to doing everything possible to mitigate the challenges created by the overlap of the ITRP and ongoing significant projects by airport partners and stakeholders.
This is done with meticulous planning and the use of sophisticated traffic modeling and monitoring. Using the latest traffic modeling techniques, Houston Airports phases roadway impacts around the slowest roadway times (nighttime and off peak days) that have very little impact to travel times.
Updates on the FIS/ICP Project
In August 2022, the FIS/ICP project celebrated substantial completion of the demolition activities for the Terminal D/E Garage which cleared the way for construction activities to begin on the new FIS/ICP structure. Construction works are currently focusing on structural foundations, piers, and underground utilities. FIS/ICP Project Manager Scott Phillips said that, given the construction site constraints, site logistics have been challenging since the Airport continues to operate in the background.
“Material staging and sequencing have been essential to facilitating these early works,” Phillips said.
The project passed another milestone with the completion of a regional detention pond in October, which helps control rain and stormwater runoff during weather events.
Work continues on the additional of levels to the Terminal C Garage and is scheduled to open the first quarter of 2024. In order to minimize passenger impacts, regular steel deliveries have occurred at night. Additionally, the first of four phases of the structural steel has been erected.
The CenterPoint manhole work in North Terminal Road was completed on schedule Nov. 11. The traffic control measures have been removed and the roadway was returned to service. This work involved building a new energy vault to support new power stations, Terminal D, and homes of the future Checked Baggage Inspection System (CBIS) and Checked Baggage Resolution Area (CBRA). This two-lane closure was the latest example of the extreme care and planning around roadway impacts and had little to no impact to travel times because of the detailed planning and phasing. Additional single-lane closures will be required in the future and will also benefit from this planning process.
Terminal D Relife/Refresh Project
Project Manager Laura Miller said that the installation of new flooring has begun at the west side of Terminal D (Gate D12) and is working toward the east side (Gate D1).
Additionally, there are new air handling units (AHUs) being installed to better regulate the temperature in the gate houses and throughout the terminal. These new AHUs will deliver the highest air quality to Houstonians and world travelers with the latest Ultraviolet (UV) air purification technology as well as Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) filtration that filters at a much higher level than traditional HEPA filtration systems. Finally, modern and efficient LED lighting is being installed to brighten up the spaces.
Terminal D West Pier
Work on the new Terminal D West Pier is also progressing nicely, according to Miller. The final of eight concrete pours was completed on Nov. 17 for the elevated deck (concourse level). Also, roughly 35% of the steel has been erected for the new pier. The new sterile corridor has been poured and framed, and the exterior panels are being installed.
“The apron pavement on the west side of the pier has been completed and we will continue with the east side once the crane (for steel erection) is moved,” Miller said.
Sanderfer was highly complimentary of the team and said that “All told, we are making significant overall progress: you can now see the full shape of the new concourse. Houston, we have a terminal.”
Change is Coming
The overall ITRP’s careful planning includes capacity for even further expansion of the international terminal as passenger and airline traffic grows beyond the record levels attained in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Augusto Bernal, Director of Communications for Houston Airports, was enthusiastic in his assessment of the program and the long-term implications of its successful completion.
“These improvements will result in a smart, efficient airport that reflects the City of Houston, serves the community and region, and inspires others as a model of excellence and innovation,” Bernal said.
“This is a time of tremendous growth and expansion for Bush Airports and clear communication with our passengers, stakeholders and the community is extremely critical,” Bernal said. “ As we have stated many times, change is coming, and we are making great progress.”