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IAH subway train closing temporarily for expansion plans

The subway was opened in 1981 and was built by Disney World

HOUSTON — It's one of the more frequented ways to get about terminals, but now the 40-year-old subway at Bush Intercontinental Airport is making way for world-class infrastructure.

Underground at the airport, travelers are sometimes surprised.

“When I am here… I take it as frequently as I need to," traveler Sedric Bell said.

Seeing a subway train isn't exactly expected.

“It was super simple... and it took a couple of minutes. It was great," said Alina Gersib, who took the subway along with traveler Mason Diaz as part of their trip back to Arkansas.

But Houston Airports Communications Director Augusto Bernal said the reliable rail helps passengers navigate the terminals of this major transportation hub. 

“A lot of Houstonians love it,” Bernal said. “They're all very busy, so it's really important to be able to connect all five terminals," he continued.

But starting February 6, the subway, which was built by Disney World and opened in 1981, will temporarily close as the airport moves forward with construction – moving the subway control room to another location.

“So we can install some critical support infrastructure for what we call the ICP, that's the International Central Processor, which is basically the crown jewel of this new international terminal. That's where we're going to have your baggage claim area, your ticket counters where everything's going to come together for our international travelers coming 2024.” Bernal said.

The airport said the ICP will have 17 lanes of TSA, one of the biggest checkpoints in the U.S. Passengers will no longer have to check in or get luggage in different terminals for international flights.

The airport said the "D-West Pier" will make way for more planes including wide-body planes that can fly farther. A Terminal D already exists and the "D-West Pier" will essentially be an extension of the terminal. Videos and renderings can be found on Houston Airports' YouTube page.

The airport said this could be especially helpful for the World Cup that will be in Houston in 2026.

Bernal said much of the work that’s been going on behind the scenes will start to take shape in 2023 with construction set to be completed on the international terminal by the end of 2024.

“The project is still on time and everything's moving along but you're going to start seeing a lot more of the actual construction of the buildings coming up this year," he said.

And for those passengers looking for an alternative to the subway, the skyway past security can get you to all five terminals and Bernal said shuttle busses will also be provided.

“We're trying to minimize the inconvenience for passengers," says Bernal.

The closure is expected to last up to seven days. Airport officials advise travelers to give themselves extra time. And if you plan to walk, it's approximately six minutes between each terminal.

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