DIA manager Kim Day responds to criticism over cost overruns

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Denver International Airport Hotel and Transit CenterDenver International Airport for months has been a major construction zone as work continues on a new hotel and transit center.

The 500-room Westin Hotel will open next year and commuter rail service linking DIA to Union Station downtown will begin in 2016.

But the budget for the project has jumped from $500 million to $544 million and airport officials recently acknowledged that it could go even higher, to nearly $600 million.

The budget overrun has Denver’s city auditor, Dennis Gallagher, concerned. Last week, he announced that his office will investigate the matter, and he said he would hire construction consultants to help identify the cause of the latest increase.

Airport manager Kim Day insists costs for the south terminal expansion project are not spinning out of control.

“Yes, it’s bad news,” Day says. “Nobody ever wants to hear project costs are going up.”

But she says there are legitimate reasons for the budget increase, including rising costs of labor and materials due to the large number of major construction projects going on in the Denver area.

The expansion project was funded primarily through the sale of bonds. DIA officials must dip into cash reserves to pay for the cost overruns.