DENVER (CBS4) - Denver International Airport administrators have laid out how a high pressure hot water line broke at the airport in early December 2021, causing an estimated $50 million damage and a delay of 9 to 10 months in the opening of the Concourse B East gate expansion.
"Never seen anything like it," said Stuart Williams, the airport's Senior Vice President for Airport Expansion during a presentation Feb. 23 to a Denver City Council subcommittee. "It wreaked havoc."
He told councilmembers that between Dec. 5 and 6, the hot water line failed, spewing an unspecified amount of 180 degree water on to electrical and communication equipment, flooding the mezzanine and concourse levels, damaging floors. It came "almost at the worst possible time," said Williams.
The 120,000 square foot gate expansion was supposed to open in January 2022. Williams said the opening would now be delayed until September or October of this year. The expansion includes seven gates for United Airlines.
The B East gate project is part of a larger gate expansion at the airport which includes 39 new gates. Construction began in 2018.
Williams said what happened was akin to buying a brand new car and totaling it the next day. He said insurance is expected to cover the cost of the damage. An investigation is ongoing said Williams, to determine what caused the line to break.
Airport CEO Phil Washington told councilmembers the damage could have been even worse, but a worker for a contractor discovered the spewing water at about 3 a.m. and was able to find the shutoff valve.
"It's pretty incredible," said Washington.
UPDATE: CBS4 learned after the publication of this article that two days after the pipe broke, Washington sent the following email to the Denver City Council about the situation and how it would impact the opening:
City Council Members:
We have been working hard to deliver the remaining portions of the Concourse Expansion Program. We were slated to open up the B-East Expansion this January for United Airlines, and we were undergoing our inspection process. Unfortunately, this week a hot water line broke in the B-East Expansion. At this time, we are assessing what damage has occurred and what the system impacts are. We are coordinating with United as we further assess the situation. After we understand all of the system impacts, and the cause, we will recalibrate our completion schedule accordingly and keep you apprised.
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