In spite of the unprecedented air travel challenges fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s an exciting time at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Construction on the IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program (ITRP) is moving forward. 

ITRP is a billion-dollar, multiyear expansion program that will upgrade and modernize several areas of George Bush Intercontinental Airport, including the construction of the new Mickey Leland International Terminal (MLIT).  The new terminal will consolidate what is known today as Terminals D and E into one centralized ticketing, departures and arrivals hall. 

“We are working diligently and smartly through the challenges caused by the pandemic, and the work is moving along very well,” director of design, construction and project management for ITRP Mark Potadle said. “We are at the stage of the job where, on certain components of the program, design and construction are taking place at the same time. Design will drop off, but for now, it’s full-throttle ahead, and we’re making good progress. It’s great to see that the renderings are actually coming to life.” 

Potadle said construction crews have been able to take advantage of reduced passenger traffic at the airport and revise the phasing of certain works to make even more progress. Potadle was pleased to report great progress on key program activities, including the following dates and milestones that have been made: 

- The concept design was completed as of October 2019; 

- The schematic design was completed as of March 2020; 

- The advance packages’ design is completed at 95%; and

- The advance packages construction started in July 2020. 

Potadle said that 100% design is forecast to be complete by February 2021. 

The next major upcoming milestone for the federal inspection service area and the new international ticketing, departures and arrivals hall is the demolition of the Terminal D and E garage, which has a projected start date of second-quarter 2021. 

Potadle was also quick to point out that the Mickey Leland International Terminal North Concourse and the enabling utilities landside projects are also making progress. 

The pandemic has certainly brought forth challenges in working style, Potadle said. 

“Today, for instance, we had a team of people reviewing complex contract matters via Teams, as opposed to workshops or sitting in a conference room,” Potadle said. “The personal interaction is lacking, but the results and the professionalism of management, staff and contractors have been great. We know what we’re working toward, and we are fully committed to it.” 

Houston Airports is focused on achieving the ultimate customer service quality recognition as a Skytrax-rated, five-star airport at both Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports, according to Houston Airports Chief Infrastructure Officer Bob Barker. 

“We and our partners are working hard to create a safe, seamless and cohesive experience for each and every passenger,” Barker said. “In our treatment of every customer, and one another, we are laser-focused in our vision of establishing Houston as a five-star global air service gateway where the magic of flight is celebrated.”   

Potadle said the benefits of ITRP, scheduled for substantial completion in 2024, will be tremendous for the traveling public and the City of Houston. “The obvious benefits of the program are that it updates the facility and shows off what the City of Houston can provide to the flying public. The federal inspection service area and the international terminal complex expansion will be a project that sets the next benchmark when it comes to check in, going through security, getting to a facility, etc.,” he said. 

Potadle said that Houston Airports has been a world leader in the aviation industry with regard to the transition to touchless technologies that prominently includes biometrics. 

“The challenges of COVID-19 have accelerated the need for a touchless travel experience,” Potadle said, “We continue to lead the way.” 

At present, the new international terminal complex construction start, including the arrivals/departures curb, is slated for May 2022, following completion of the demolition of the existing Terminal D and E parking garage.

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