Airport shelves baggage proposal

first_imgDespite five years of study and $25 million in design costs, airport commissioners on Monday scrapped most of the plans for a massive LAX baggage-handling system as projected construction costs have soared. Commissioners said the baggage-screening system planned for five terminals had become too technologically complicated and was part of an overall project budget that mushroomed from $341 million four years ago to more than $900 million. “It’s an unhappy situation I think that we have gotten as far as we have,” said Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, which oversees the airport. “Would we do it this way again? No.” In 2003, the TSA agreed to pay three-quarters – or $256 million – of the cost to install new baggage-screening systems at Los Angeles International Airport’s nine terminals and two terminals at L.A./Ontario International Airport. Since then, however, costs have skyrocketed and the TSA has declined to offer further funding for the project. As a backup, LAX officials had hoped to dip into passenger facility fees to pay for the baggage-screening system. But the Federal Aviation Administration has said such funds cannot be used for work on Terminals 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 because they operate on exclusive leases with individual airlines. It was unclear Monday whether the airlines would choose to develop their own design for the baggage-screening system or if they would follow the airport’s $25 million concept, which was funded by LAWA’s budget and the TSA. But Commissioner Fernando Torres-Gil said he was concerned about reversing the decision so late in the process. “We were concerned about the lack of bids on previous projects and here we have two and are rejecting them,” Torres-Gil said. “I’m concerned about us maintaining credibility with the business community.” Airport commission President Alan Rothenberg suggested that the project’s designs and a $312 million bid submitted by Austin Commercial be forwarded to the airlines for consideration. “The reason we are changing direction here is because the airlines have agreed, though not necessarily happily, but they have agreed to shoulder their responsibility to do their own baggage system,” Lindsey said. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the TSA required that all passenger baggage be screened by the end of 2002. To meet the deadline, LAX temporarily installed baggage-screening equipment and explosives-detection devices in the ticketing lobby areas of the terminals. But the truck-size bag-screening machines that clutter the lobbies often create crowds that could be vulnerable to attack. The plan for a new baggage system calls for moving the huge screening systems out of the terminals and into quarters where passengers would not see them. Along with a new screening system, plans call for building inspection rooms, modifying computer systems, and installing an explosives-detection system and closed-circuit televisions. Commissioner Sylvia Patsaouras also voiced concern over the amount already spent on the project. “After spending so much, I’m concerned we are going to say we will start all over again,” Patsaouras said. “I would hope the airlines are able to use part of the work we have done.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champInstead, members of the airport commission decided to turn the project over to airlines to pursue after construction bids came in higher than expected. Lindsey said the terminals that would be affected on the south side of the facility are all airline-operated and the board felt the airlines could absorb the costs. “They agreed, not happily, to do so,” Lindsey said. The baggage system is part of a massive LAX modernization program and was developed with federal officials as part of overall security measures at the airport. But part of the problem is Transportation Security Administration funding. last_img read more