Feds allow Juneau Airport to drop vehicle searches

Airport officials plan to bring rental-car parking closer to terminal sometime this week

Posted: Monday, September 23, 2002

Picking up and dropping off travelers at the Juneau Airport is easier since the city-owned facility received a waiver excusing it from performing searches of vehicles using short-term parking.

After the Sept. 11 attacks the Federal Aviation Administration imposed a parking ban anywhere within 300 feet of an airport, pushing travelers back into long-term parking farther away from the terminal.

The restrictions were lifted in April, but drivers using the short-term parking lot were required to submit their vehicles to a search. Drivers were charged a $1 fee to pay the personnel costs of the searches.

A review of the revenue earned from parking showed a potential loss of $60,000 due to the closure of the lot, said Airport Manager Allan Heese.

"When we started doing the searches people were reluctant to use the short-term lot," Heese said.

Use of the short-term lot increased as travelers became more used to the searches, he said.

Heese said a study conducted in early September by Maryland-based airport security firm CTI Consulting looked at factors such as the structural integrity of the terminal and its proximity to airport parking.

The study's findings were presented to the Transportation Security Administration this month to win the waiver. The TSA was created by the federal government after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to oversee transportation security.

Heese said contracting for the study cost between $15,000 and $18,000.

In addition to eliminating the vehicle searches, Heese said the airport is hoping within the next few days to have a portion of the rental car lot available for on-site rental cars. Those cars are being parked in a lot approximately as far from the terminal as the long-term parking lot.

After submitting the security study the TSA determined the rental car lot could be opened for regular parking once immovable height-restricting barriers are put into place.

Heese said as a security precaution the barriers will prevent larger vehicles from parking close to the airport structure.

Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothyi@juneauempire.com.

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