Approval of Baggage Screening Project Key Step in Airport Expansion
The South Jersey Transportation Authority’s Board of Commissioners took a major step in the master plan for expanding Atlantic City International Airport Tuesday.
The commissioners approved a $7,166,000 contract with Ernest Boch & Sons of Philadelphia for construction of a building to house the Transportation Security Administration’s state-of-the-art baggage screening equipment. The structure will also expand the airlines’ space for sorting luggage en route to aircraft after clearing screening. The net result will be safer and quicker handling of check-through bags.
The project also includes the installation of 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 a 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 plan also will relieve passengers of their current burden of carrying all luggage to the TSA checkpoint.At the same time, the new structure will free up terminal space to allow room 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.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. The stages:
• An underground level, which will support the east-end expansion and provide space to consolidate and modernize such building systems as electrical supply, air conditioning and heating.
• The first level will house expanded baggage claim and ticketing space. It will free up existing space for more TSA checkpoints and expedite passenger flow from check-in to the loading gates. It also provides more space for airline support functions.
• The second level will provide more space for passenger waiting and services, plus retail shops. It will add to the terminal capacity for loading gates, raising the current six to 10 to 12, contingent on final design.
• Completion of the first three stages will present an opportunity to rationalize the use of space within the current footprint – giving the airlines and ACY staff more office space, the TSA more room for its operations and most important for travelers, to increase the number of baggage claim carousels and to improve access to ground transportation and rental cars.
• The final stage is to build a concourse from the new east-end structure, bringing the airport's capacity up to 14 or 15 gates.