City Council had previously approved an expansion of the checkpoint in September. However, when the Transportation Security Administration mandated addition of full-body scanners, airport officials realized they needed more space.
So, council approved an additional $903,000 for the project yesterday.
TSA officials began installing the scanners last year, with a nationwide deployment schedule of about two years.
The installation of scanners for the Colorado Springs airport will be toward the end of TSA’s schedule, about 18 months from now, after the airport completes expansion of its security checkpoint.
Rather than expanding twice, the airport stopped the process on queue expansions and decided to do a broader expansion to include room for the full-body scanners. The $903,000 in appropriations the airport requested yesterday from City Council will cover the cost of making room for the scanners.
The security checkpoint expansion will improve queuing space, so that people in security lines won’t be standing in the middle of the airport. The new area will be about 3,800 square feet. About 2,000 square feet will be constructed on the east side of the existing checkpoint, for passenger queuing. About 1,800 square feet will be built-out on the west side of the checkpoint, to make room for the full-body scanners and other TSA equipment.
This project is being funded by the airport’s passenger facility charge, program, which places a $3 fee on each ticket, generating about $2.3 million in revenue. The fee will not increase, Earle said.
In addition, the airport is in the midst of designing a second project – an automated baggage screening system. Originally, airport and TSA officials thought that a scaled-down version of the automated screening system would work, Earle said. That would have cost about $6 million.
Since then, airport officials have been advised that TSA and the airlines need more capacity and more capability. This far more complex system will cost about $17 million, and includes longer baggage belt runs, more complex scanning and automatic baggage-guiding equipment.
“During peak times, it’s really a push for TSA to get all (the baggage) done in time,” he said.
The new system will also have fewer “false positives,” which means there will be more privacy for customers. There will be “far fewer” instances in which TSA will have to open bags to search them.
In addition, customers will not have to take their luggage over to TSA officials after checking in at the ticket counter. Their bags will go directly on the automated system.
“This will be a lot more convenient for customers and give them more privacy,” Earle said.
Also, it will be more efficient for TSA. Officials can open up more security lines and do other things that are needed around the airport.
The project is under design right now, and goes into construction in early spring. This project will be funded by the airport and federal TSA grants. No tax dollars will be used.
Earle hopes to have the first section of the system tested and in use before Thanksgiving, with the remainder of the system in use by early 2012.