In preparation for significant construction beginning this fall at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has initiated a project awareness outreach campaign using multiple communications channels. Included in the campaign is an expanded Project Journey website with construction advisories and opt-in alerts on the latest project developments and impacts on airport customers. Other outreach components will include in-terminal signage, information desks, airline passenger messages and electronic wayfinding tools.
The $1 billion multi-year project will transform the passenger experience by freeing up movement inside Terminal B/C for ticketed passengers in 2020 and ending busing to remotely parked aircraft at Gate 35X in 2021. At a briefing Wednesday to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board of directors, Airports Authority executives discussed the airport’s comprehensive approach to handling potential impacts of construction and communicating them to customers and airport employees over the next four years.
A “Construction Advisories” webpage that will display notices about changes to normal airport configurations can easily be accessed from the yellow icon on the FlyReagan homepage. In addition, the page links to a sign-up tool so subscribers can receive the same advisories by email when they are posted. Users can edit or cancel their subscription through a self-service portal linked to each email notification.
Most construction will be fenced or walled off from passenger facilities, limiting the effect on public areas of the airport.
“In many ways, the passenger experience during Project Journey construction will not functionally change,” said Airports Authority Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Margaret McKeough. “Departing passengers will continue using the existing roadways, walkways, ticket counters and security checkpoints with few exceptions. Arriving passengers will use the same pathways they use today, but roadway and curbside changes outside the baggage claim level of Terminal B/C will be noteworthy. We will work hard to keep everyone informed of significant events that could affect their journey.”
Construction adjacent to the lower-level Arrivals roadway in front of Terminal B/C will produce the most noticeable traffic impacts from later this year through 2018 as traffic patterns begin to change. Initial work on the roadway will cut through the median and add two sections of wider pavement to allow for future traffic pattern shifts. The shifts will affect traffic along the inner and outer roadways adjacent to the baggage claim areas. The structure will be built overhead in phases with changes announced in advance through the Project Journey website and email advisories, and managed through temporary signage and additional staffing.
The project’s most significant impacts will be felt when lane closures in front of Terminal B/C combine with peak traffic periods on the airport roadway system, which is already busy due to record use of Reagan National.
“We advise passengers to consider using Metro or one of our parking facilities to avoid adding to the congestion,” said Paul Malandrino, vice president and airport manager. “Customers coming to the airport by car will need extra time to navigate the roadway system – especially on afternoons and late at night when traffic is the busiest.” To help passengers, the airport will deploy additional police and passenger assistance staff to keep people and traffic moving. Behind the scenes, key staff from multiple disciplines will work together in a command center environment to monitor airport conditions and proactively deploy resources where they are needed.
Over the next few months, airport users will see the gradual removal of buildings within the footprint of the New Commuter Concourse construction zone. The old Airports Authority headquarters building will be torn down first, followed by two aircraft hangars that date back to the 1950s. The area will be fenced off, avoiding disruption to Gate 35X busing and aircraft boarding operations. Construction of the 14-gate concourse is expected to begin in 2018, in tandem with re-grading of adjacent land that will support stormwater drainage when the project is completed in 2021.
For more information on Project Journey, security checkpoint and commuter concourse designs, construction timelines and to sign up for updates, visit this link.