Colorado Public Works Journal, Winter 2022

PHIL WASHINGTON - CEO CEO − Denver International Airport On July 12, 2021, Phil Washington was confirmed as the Chief Executive Officer of Denver International Airport (DEN), becoming the first mayoral appointee through the Denver City Council’s new voterbacked confirmation process. In this inaugural edition of Industry Insights, the Colorado Public Works Journal invited Phil to share his perspective on taking the helm of one of Colorado’s most cherished assets. “I was born on the south side of Chicago and raised by a single mother in public housing,” says Washington of his childhood. “I started thinking about infrastructure, public policy, and environmental justice as a teenager.” After serving his country for 25 years with distinction in the U.S. Army since retiring, Washington has dedicated his life to public service. During a 15-year tenure with the Regional Transportation District (RTD), he rose through the ranks to become the CEO in 2009, when he accelerated the progression trajectory of the RTD’s ultra-ambitious FasTracks rail expansion plan. As CEO for L.A. Metro, Washington oversaw the largest infrastructure program in America. In taking charge at DEN, he extends his heartfelt commitment to the public interest in the city where he raised his family. “I love improving everyday lives by making infrastructure work better for the people it serves,” says Washington, while admitting the lead role at DEN wasn’t the only selling point. “I had the option to stay in L.A. or explore some opportunities on the east coast. Denver is where my six-year-old twin granddaughters are growing up, and more than anything, I wanted to be in their lives.” Asked about his vision for the city’s gleaming jewel on the prairie, Washington is enthusiastic. “Former Mayor Federico Peña’s vision for the airport was incredible then and remains inspirational now. Today, DEN is the third busiest airport worldwide, hosting 69 million travelers in 2019, and the secondlargest by landmass. Some 30,000 badged employees work at DEN, and we are the fastest recovering airport in the country coming out of the pandemic.” Illuminating his expectations for consultant and contractor selection for upcoming work at the airport, Washington plans to champion equity as the cornerstone of decision making. “Certainly, on time, on budget, and strong partnering and communication capabilities are essential to successful procurement, but teams that put a premium on equity will rise to the top. Beyond a basic diversity plan, I’m looking for teams primed by MWBEs, ACDBEs, and HUB Zone firms with supportive services from industry-leading resources in both consulting and construction.” As for the traveling public, Washington shares that an exceptional customer experience will be at the heart of everything he does. “The public has a misconception that the airport is tax-payer funded. It isn't. This is a business. Funding for the services provided and the choices made comes from the revenue DEN generates,” finishes Washington. “Asset management, globalization, improved concessions, customer service, and promoting careers in aviation for future generations will set the tone for my tenure.” INDUSTRY INSIGHTS “Strong partnering and communication capabilities are essential to successful procurement” Key Projects in Progress Great Hall Expansion: • Phase 2 ongoing to mid-2024 with the new security checkpoint opening in Q1 2024. • Completion Phase construction to begin late 2022 with sections opening along the way to summer 2028 fruition. Gate Expansion and Concourse Renewal Program: • New B-west gates opened in 2020; remaining gates on B-east, C-east and A-west open this year. Peña Boulevard Improvements: • Phase 1 improved inbound Peña Boulevard between Jackson Gap Road and the Terminal with two dedicated travel lanes that enhance safety by eliminating merging weaving patterns. A return-to-terminal loop was constructed at Jackson Gap St. • Phase 2 under consideration proposes similar improvements for outbound Peña Boulevard Gap and delivers a Diverging Diamond Inter change at Peña and Jackson Gap and a new road for rental car shuttles. Winter 2022 | 55 feature by Sean O’Keefe Images courtesy of Denver International Airport