Juneau Airport plans expansion

Posted: Thursday, November 07, 2002

The Juneau Airport is considering a $5 million, 14,000-square foot terminal expansion to accommodate new security equipment and allay a loss of office space.

Under a new federal law, all airports will be required to screen checked bags for explosives by the end of the year. In Juneau, the airport plans to rearrange the downstairs lobby to add four to six detection machines and the Transportation Security Administration staffers who go with them, airport Manager Allan Heese said Wednesday.

Under a short-term plan, the airport would put the equipment and staff next to the Alaska Airlines ticket counter. An unused ticket counter would be removed and roller tables would be installed, he said.

But the new equipment creates something of a domino effect, Heese told the Juneau Assembly's Finance Committee.

"By next summer with this configuration in our airport ... it's going to be a mess," he said.

The change would dislocate offices used by Alaska Airlines, terminal maintenance and airport security staff. It also could make it harder for the airport to attract a second major air carrier to Juneau, Heese said.

As a long-term solution, the airport is exploring a 14,000-square-foot, two-story expansion that would better accommodate the security equipment and add office space. The addition could cost roughly $5 million, and the airport isn't sure where the funding is going to come from, Heese said. Federal money appears to be iffy, he said.

An expansion would replace lost office space and could accommodate Customs Bureau and Immigration and Naturalization Service staff, he said. The Federal Aviation Administration also wants to remodel, Alaska Airlines has asked for more space, and the airport needs to consider how it might accommodate foreign tourists, Heese said.

The expansion wouldn't fix all problems at the terminal, but would help until a new terminal or major renovation comes through, he said.

At the meeting Wednesday, Deputy Mayor Ken Koelsch said the city needs to work with Alaska's congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., and Gov.-elect Frank Murkowski to find funding. Mayor Sally Smith said the city will contact its lobbyist in Washington, D.C., about the project.

Heese said the airport is advertising for a planning and design firm to look into what options are available.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.

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