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BWI expects to start next phase of international terminal expansion

BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport is poised to begin work on the next phase of its international terminal expansion, a project in the works since 2015.

The state Board of Public Works will consider a $60 million construction contract with Baltimore-based Whiting Turner Contracting Co. to expand and renovate Concourse E, where international flights arrive and depart. The project would add six gates in that area and bring the total number to 14.

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"International traffic has grown steadily at BWI in recent years," said Jonathan Dean, a BWI spokesman. "We have had new airlines and service to new international destinations added in recent years."

A record 24 million passengers flew from or to BWI at in 2015. They included a record 1.1 million passengers on international flights, marking the first year the airport served more than 1 million international passengers.

Final passenger numbers have not been released for last year, but the airport has seen record passenger numbers each of the past 17 months, Dean said.

BWI officials began planning for a major expansion of international service in 2015. A $125 million project that was completed in November connected the E concourse with the domestic D concourse and created a new, broader security checkpoint for both.

International growth has been spurred in part by the entry of Southwest Airlines, the airport's largest carrier, into the international market in 2014. Southwest has been expanding its roster of international destinations, adding service between BWI and destinations in Costa Rica and Mexico in 2015.

Top international destinations include London; Frankfurt, Germany; Reykjavik, Iceland; Toronto; the Caribbean and Mexico.

The project the Maryland Aviation Administration has submitted for approval calls for a 70,000-square-foot addition and renovation of another 20,000 square feet of the international pier.

The increase will accommodate an additional six gates, including four for arrivals only and two full-service areas for arrivals or departures with passenger waiting areas and space for future concessions. Two lower levels would include space for baggage and passport control operations.

Project costs are expected to total $100 million, including the $60 million construction contract and the rest for design and planning work, aircraft apron parking and other work.

"This is the next project to accommodate growing, international traffic at BWI," Dean said.

Pending approval from the public works board, the expansion is slated to start this spring and be completed by late 2018. The new aircraft gates would be available for service in the summer of 2018.

Project costs originally were estimated at $45.6 million but increased partly because of increased construction activity in the Baltimore area and at the airport is pushing up costs of mechanical and electrical contractors.

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