Reagan National security

Reagan National Airport has two new security checkpoint buildings. They open Nov. 9. (WTOP/John Aaron)

A ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday marked “major completion” of a $1 billion improvement project at Reagan National Airport, which will have a big impact on travelers.

The project involves two new security checkpoint buildings that sit above the arrivals roadway and are set to open Nov. 9, according to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority President and CEO Jack Potter.

“For the first time, Reagan National will have space specifically designated and designed for TSA security,” Potter said, speaking from one of the new buildings.

The checkpoint buildings will replace the three existing checkpoints for terminals B and C, with the number of security lanes going from 20 to as many as 28. “So if you think about the capacity improvement potential there, it’s about a 40% increase in capacity,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “I love that.”The big concourse, known as National Hall, will soon only be accessible post-security, but the change will allow passengers to move freely between gates 10 and 59.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said it was “definitely a great day for this region,” while D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser praised leaders “for looking forward, seeing what we need to do to accommodate security, but also the experience for our travelers.”

The improvement project, dubbed Project Journey, was born because the airport had operated far in excess of its designed capacity before the pandemic hit. Potter said the new checkpoints will open “just as the November-December holiday passenger loads are expected to approach pre-pandemic levels.”

Project Journey also included the creation of a concourse that replaced the infamous Gate 35X, which required travelers to board buses and wait on the tarmac. That new concourse opened in April.

“The only thing more inefficient than Congress,” said Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, “was Gate 35X.”

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