COVID-19 creates opportunity for greater construction efficiency
HOUSTON (April 21, 2020) - Heavy machinery could be seen crushing and crunching the Old C North Terminal building at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)’s ramp Monday – a major milestone in the $1.3 billion IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program (ITRP).
Following a decrease in air traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic that crippled the airline industry, ITRP can proceed with fewer logistical considerations that come with aircraft coming and going around the construction area.
IAH and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) have experienced a reduction in air traffic, after a record-breaking year in 2019 in which nearly 60 million passengers traveled through Houston Airports. Nationally, airlines have eliminated the vast majority of international flights. Governmental restrictions and personal choices have also kept travelers homebound.
Since the groundbreaking ceremony in October 2019, the progress on the demolition of Old C North Pier has been impressive, with full demolition expected to be completed by summer 2020. The work has included identification and isolation of existing services, hazardous material abatement, structural assessments and finally, the physical demolition and hauling away of the old structures. Each of these tasks were safely carried out directly adjacent to the operational Terminals C and D as well as the IAH North aircraft movement areas. There were no disruptions to operations.
Importantly, the downturn has not reduced the demand for design, project management and construction management input as the program continues to advance at pace. Through the ten current ITRP prime professional services and delivery contracts, more than 70 companies are engaged in day-to-day operations. This has engaged over 400 local Houstonians, employed on a program for which the significance and continued momentum cannot be underestimated.
A related indicator of continuing progress is that at the end of March 2020, the Houston Area Construction Education Collaborative (HACEC) provided Airport and OSHA Safety Training to 435 ITRP personnel. HACEC has successfully equipped and safely mobilized suitably trained staff to tackle complex construction activities.
“It’s critical we best utilize this time to prepare for the aviation comeback,” Houston Airports Director Mario Diaz said.
“The opening of the New International Terminal Processor is scheduled for 2024, and the completion of ITRP for 2025. This completed program goes far in maintaining the standing of our city as a top-tier international gateway to the world – with more capacity for wide-body aircraft and amenities that will provide a passenger experience that’s second to none.”
The ongoing demolition of old Terminal C North will create room for six new gates to fit bigger, wide-bodied aircraft that can fly farther, creating new routes to bring in new business to Houston.
The international redevelopment plan resolves current and future roadway and curbside capacity constraints in the central terminal area, improves baggage handling system capacity and reliability challenges, and significantly improves the overall international passenger experience.
The ITRP includes refurbishing the existing Mickey Leland International Terminal (MLIT) and demolition of the Terminal D/E parking garage to create the new International Terminal Processor between Terminals D and E, where all the international ticketing counters, security checkpoint lanes and baggage claims will be consolidated. The completed international terminal will include two concourses — one each in the current terminals — where passengers will board their planes, dine or use facilities such as airport lounges.