It’s a milestone that will pass largely unnoticed by the traveling public, but another step toward final completion of the massive “Project Journey” expansion program at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Only final inspections on remaining punchlist items are left for the airport’s new pier of gates to be considered fully complete. That is expected to happen by the end of the month.
At the Jan. 19 board of directors meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, staff said the new-gates project was 99.8 percent wrapped up. But getting that last 0.2 percent will allow airport officials to cross it off their to-do list.
The new 14-gate pier serving travelers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport actually opened last April, with additions (such as new restaurants and other facilities) being added in succeeding months.
The new pier, which connected directly to the B/C Terminal, includes the newly designated gates 46 through 59, and largely will serve passengers traveling on regional operators under contract to American Airlines, the dominant carrier the airport. Previously, passengers on those flights congregated at a single gate and were bused to their aircraft.
An update on the Project Journey effort was presented to airports authority members during their monthly meeting, which was held “virtually” owing to the pandemic. (December’s meeting was the first, and thus far only, to be held in person since in the onset of COVID.)
Project Journey moved passenger-screening areas closer to the entrance of the airport, before screened passengers are deposited in National Hall (a shopping and dining venue) and then to their gates. The National Hall update is now 95 percent compete, staff says, although getting that figure to 100 percent is likely to take another eight months.
The projected final cost of the new 14-gate pier is approximately $380 million, with the projected final costs of the National Hall part of Project Journey clocking in at $305 million. Coupled with other improvements, they represent the biggest capital project at the 80-year-old airport since new terminals B/C opened in 1997.
Reagan National has been among the most hard-hit airports in the nation during the COVID crisis, due in large part to its reliance on business travel. But passenger counts nationally are coming back, if still slowly, leading to hopes that Reagan National will see a significant chunk of its travel back in coming months – if COVID can finally be wrangled under control.