Wednesday, July 29
By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor
Travelers through Jacksonville International Airport will learn soon how a new baggage screening system will affect their travel, but it likely won’t have a major impact on convenience.
The Jacksonville Aviation Authority is preparing to renovate its baggage-screening and handling system in a $19 million project. The authority said the Transportation Security Administration will fund 90 percent of the project and JAA will pick up 10 percent.
The city is reviewing a building-permit application for the job by Balfour Beatty Construction at a construction cost of almost $17.4 million.
Community Relations Administrator Debbie Jones said the project is a total upgrade of the checked-bag screening equipment and conveyor equipment.
“The current machines have reached the end of their lifecycle,” she said.
The current machines were mandated by the TSA in the wake of 9/11. That system was installed in 2002 at a cost of $20 million, with half paid by state and federal grants and the rest by JAA.
About 4,500 pieces of luggage are processed daily at the airport. Jones said the new machines will handle baggage more efficiently and accommodate higher demand as airport traffic increases.
She said construction for the new system should start within the next two months and should be completed in a year to 14 months.
Jones said the authority is working through final details and coordinating the new system with the airlines on the logistics.
She said there would be a small impact in processing checked luggage into the system, but before any changes start that affect travelers, media will be given a preview to share with the public.