Denver, CO

Triple escalator, twin-tower elevators featured in Denver Airport Great Hall expansion

David Heitz
A new triple escalator in the Great Hall at DEN goes from level 6 to level 4.Photo byCity and County of Denver

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) As 400,000 people trek through Denver International Airport this Memorial Day weekend, expansion of the Great Hall at DEN continues ahead of schedule and under budget, according to airport CEO Phil Washington.

Washington and other airport executives appeared at the May 24 Business, Arts, Workforce and Aviation Committee meeting of the Denver City Council. “We understand that people are ready for this project to be over,” said airport Senior Vice President Michael Sheehan. According to Sheehan, contractors finished phase I of the Great Hall redo and expansion ahead of schedule and $25 million under budget. Phase 2 also is on track for early completion, he said.

Sheehan said he constantly challenges the Great Hall expansion team to “accelerate work, we will beat the schedule.” But he added the airport construction should not negatively impact operations, so project speed isn’t always as fast as they would like it to be.

Sheehan said rebuilding the Great Hall is no small task. “Last fall we relocated 20 carriers, one at a time in the wee hours of the night. There have been a lot of long hours.”
Twin-tower elevators will descend from the Great Hall down to the train. Construction will be tricky so as not to disrupt train service.Photo byCity and County of Denver

He said building twin-tower elevators through the center of the Great Hall will require surgical precision so as not to disrupt the train. A triple escalator also will adorn the Great Hall.

Airport officials also told the council about a new TSA initiative coming to DEN June 1. Denver Reserve allows someone to make their TSA check-in appointment online up to three days before their flight. When they arrive at the airport they go through a dedicated TSA lane.

When completed, the Great Hall will boast 18,000 square feet of concession space across a dozen merchants, mostly on level 5. The concessions will be located before security checkpoints.

Ticket counters on level 6 are scheduled for completion mid-2028, but Sheehan said the renovations may be completed sooner.

Ortega questions maintenance

Council member Debbie Ortega said the last time she used the airport an escalator was broken. The restrooms also had several non-functioning stalls, she said. The airport has on-call contracts at its disposal so things can be repaired quickly, she pointed out. She said the council recently signed off on several airport maintenance contracts. She wants updates to “make sure we’re continuing to be the best functioning airport.”

Ortega said some small minority-owned businesses have contacted her about not being paid for work at the airport. “They don’t want to do business at the airport due to the payment issues,” she told Sheehan.

Airport beckons United Airlines headquarters

Washington said the airport has developed a strong partnership with United Airlines, which employs 10,000 people at DEN. He said “everything except for their headquarters” is located in Denver and their CEO even has a house in Colorado. He said the airport would like to see the headquarters move from Chicago to Denver.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

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