Only three weeks after becoming the first major U.S. airport to receive approval for a 100% bag screening program, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) today began the construction necessary for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to meet its new requirement for scanning checked luggage. The construction of the expanded and enhanced baggage handling rooms is expected to cost as much as $100 million and will house the TSA's new screening equipment and personnel.
The TSA is under a Congressional mandate to implement 100% baggage screening at all of the nation's airports by December 31st, 2002. Recently, 39 airports across the country sent a letter to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Norman Mineta requesting that the deadline be pushed back. Instead of joining those airports, Massport worked with Senators Kennedy and Kerry and Congressmen Markey and Capuano and received the support of the entire Massachusetts Congressional Delegation to gain TSA approval for a plan developed by an internationally recognized team of experts.
Today's construction marks a new phase in the ongoing seven day-a-week effort to have the TSA meet its December 31st deadline. Moving from the design phase to the construction phase, crews today began breaking ground on the first of 15 separate areas to be built or expanded. After removing debris, the construction crews will drive piles, lay foundations and erect steel frames for the new facilities. Massport officials will provide periodic updates as the construction proceeds.
"Today, the hard part begins. The schedule for this monumental task has no room for error," said Massport CEO Craig P. Coy. "Over the next six months, Massport will remain vigilant and focused because any slippage in the project can push the completion date beyond the new year."
Massport developed Logan's 100% bag screening program in conjunction with the TSA and a design and construction team hired in March 2002. The luggage screening plan calls for an inline system built in enhanced and expanded baggage handling rooms throughout the airport. This design allows the TSA to install and operate the explosive detection system without decreasing the public space available to passengers in the airport terminals. The project provides a permanent solution integrated with airline and airport operations and avoids any temporary or make-shift design or procedures to achieve 100% checked luggage screening.
During a peak hour, the airlines at Logan handle up to 5,000 pieces of luggage. As designed, the inline 100% bag screening system will accommodate present and future capacity.
In preparation for new federal guidelines and requirements, Massport hosted a two-day infrastructure security seminar in January 2002 with 100 participants from nearly 20 U.S. airports, the FAA, and several construction and security firms. The seminar focused on incorporating federally mandated security initiatives in the design and construction of existing and new airport facilities.