Work on two new runways that are part of Dulles International Airport's $3 billion expansion could begin in months, the chief executive of the airports authority said Wednesday.
The runways are part of a project that will more than double the capacity of the airport, in suburban Virginia west of Washington, enabling it to handle 55 million passengers each year.
"It's conceivable that we can be out there clearing trees by the end of this year or the beginning of next," James Bennett told board members of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
He said expects the environmental impact reports authorizing construction of the runways to be completed by the end of the next week.
The board also approved a design concept for a four-level structure that could that could accommodate up to 90 jets. The concourse would be linked to other terminals by a new subway.
Bennett said Reagan National Airport, which the authority also oversees across the Potomac River from the capital, will begin receiving noncommercial flights on Oct. 18 for the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Private planes will only be permitted from 12 "gateway" airports approved by the government. Flight operators will have to pay for the onboard air marshal required and for a special screening regimen.
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Once completed in 2008, it will allow the airport to handle up to 50 percent more flights per hour during the right conditions.
The $1.3 billion system, called Aerotrain, is half-done and remains on track for a scheduled opening in 2009.
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