Disclaimer: I am not on Denver’s City Council, nor am I fluent in its budget proceedings.
Over the years, I have traveled through many international airports, most of which are quite beautiful. DIA certainly fits that description. I’ve had visitors say it’s the nicest airport they’ve ever been through.
Since I moved back to the US from Zurich I’ve also flown to larger, less glamorous airports, making me realize that we’re privileged to have an airy, spacious, design-forward airport.
So why must it be renovated — to the tune of $650 million? Are there not other, far more pressing infrastructure matters that local government must address? Affordable housing, public transport, a Civic Center that often resembles Needle Park are just three issues that come to mind.
If there is one issue with DIA that nearly every traveler would like to see improved, it is undoubtedly security. Incredibly, this renovation of the Great Hall doesn’t even seek to alleviate that traffic snake. Instead of expanding security, they’re just moving it, touting that it will be on the same level as check-in. Would you rather save 10-20 minutes going through security or one minute taking an escalator down to security? I know what I would choose.
This renovation is just one part of a $1.8 billion public-private partnership launched last year to “improve” the airport. These controversial P3s, as they’re known, often wind up with the public paying and the private sector profiting.
Bert Lance famously commented: “That’s the trouble with government: Fixing things that aren’t broken and not fixing things that are broken.” DIA’s Great Hall renovation: QED.
Shana Goldberg may be reached at email@example.com