Airport expansion takes off with groundbreaking on baggage project
|The commissioners (Chairman Frank Spencer in white hard hat, Acting Executive Director Jim Iannone, right) turn a ceremonial shovelful of soil.|
A groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at Atlantic City International Airport was the first step in the South Jersey Transportation Authority’s master plan to expand its capacity, speed baggage handling, rationalize foot traffic flow in the terminal and enlarge passenger security-screening space.
“This project is the first step toward enhancing Atlantic City International Airport as a destination for both leisure and business travelers,” said Frank Spencer, chairman of the South Jersey Transportation Authority. “The improvements at ACY will make it a choice for travelers throughout New Jersey.”
The $7.1-million project includes a 10,000-square foot structure to house new, state-of-the-art baggage screening equipment for the Transportation Security Administration. The project will also expand the airlines’ space for sorting luggage en route to aircraft after clearing screening. The net result will be security-screened and expeditious handling of check-through bags.
Also planned is a second escalator conduit. It will be one-way down to connect passengers coming from their arriving flights directly to the baggage claim and ground transportation. That will enable the airport to use the existing escalator as one-way up for departing passengers to reach their flight gates without having to encounter traffic in the opposite direction. Separating inbound and outbound traffic flows also enhances security.
The project also calls for new baggage conveyor belts from the ticket counter to the new screening structure. It will relieve passengers of their current burden of carrying all luggage to TSA checkpoints.
At the same time, the new structure will free up terminal space for three lanes of TSA passenger screening, reducing wait times at peak hours. The revamped TSA operation will allow passengers unimpeded check-in. As currently configured, the TSA operation restricts passenger traffic between the terminal entry and check-in counter.
To accommodate the new baggage-staging structure, the airport plans to realign two loading bridges and to enlarge its service apron. Construction of Taxiway P is due to be completed in fall of 2005. The second taxiway will give ACY operations more flexibility in directing in-bound and out-bound flights. In the future, it will also accommodate expansion of the terminal.
The project was partially financed by an FAA grant arranged through the combined efforts of Rep. Frank LoBiondo and U.S. Senators Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg. “The Authority thanks our representatives in Washington for their advocacy on our behalf,” said Acting Executive Director James R. Iannone.
"I applaud the South Jersey Transportation Authority for developing a comprehensive plan for increased passenger and baggage screening operations at the Atlantic City International Airport, so that residents and visitors can have greater ease when traveling. I am pleased the project was awarded more than $2.9 million in federal funding after approval was granted by the Transportation Security Administration and the FAA," said Congressman LoBiondo, a member of the House Aviation Subcommittee. "I continue to support improvements and upgrades of the airport, which serves a vital role in linking our communities to the nation's aviation network and remains a critical part of our regional economy."
"By relocating and upgrading Transportation Security Administration baggage screening equipment, this critical project will improve the security processing of passengers and add to the convenience of traveling out of Atlantic City International Airport,'' Senator Corzine said.
"This project will prove indispensable to the many who live around and visit Atlantic City," said Senator Lautenberg. "The improvements will provide officials with more resources to keep the public safe while creating a more pleasant flying experience for travelers."
In August, the Board of Commissioners approved a $7,166,000 contract with Ernest Boch & Sons of Philadelphia for construction of the building.
An engineering study in 2004 anticipated two million passengers a year would be traveling through Atlantic City International Airport within a decade. The consultant produced a master plan to accommodate them. It calls for upgrading the airport from its current six to 14 loading bridges, while expanding the terminal to provide convenient travel for the greater numbers. The goal of the $92-million, five-stage expansion plan is to complete work 2012.
# # #
Return to Listing