U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Denver International Airport Tuesday to celebrate the completion of a nearly $51 million stretch of taxiway that officials say will make the maze of runways and connecting pavement safer and 10% more efficient.
The end of the project, which was funded entirely by the Federal Aviation Administration, overlapped with the announcement of a $30.6 million grant for DIA through the Biden administration-championed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. That money, part of $201 million awarded for airport lighting system improvements around the country, is helping pay for lighting and rehab work on one of DIA’s six runways.
That project, with a total price tag of $41.7 million, is expected to be completed next month, the airport says.
New Taxiway EE provides unimpeded access to the same runway, according to a news release from the airport. It eliminates a “hot spot” intersection where there has been a higher risk of airplane collisions or incursions, such as when an aircraft mistakenly enters an active runway.
“When planes have to cross in front of an active runway to get where they need to go, it creates added risk,” Buttigieg said at the DIA event, according to the release. “That’s why we were proud to provide $50 million to help fund the construction of a new, safer taxiway, and another $30 million for 2,300 upgraded LED lights, so planes can operate safely no matter the weather.”
Another benefit of the new taxiway, the airport says, is that it increases the capacity of the crowded airfield. That will buy more time as DIA works out plans for a seventh runway, which is likely several years away.
The nation’s top transportation official was joined by Gov. Jared Polis, Denver Mayor Mike Johnston and DIA CEO Phil Washington for the taxiway ribbon-cutting event. Johnston recently re-appointed Washington as the top executive at DIA.
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