Metro-East News

MidAmerica to expand TSA lines to get you through screening faster

The St. Clair County Public Building Commission on Thursday approved updating the TSA screening area at MidAmerica Airport, because of increased Allegiant Air flights.

“Due to the substantial increase in flight frequency, the TSA has strongly recommended the addition of a second lane to accommodate the demand and recommended this lane be implemented as expeditiously as possible,” according to an airport memo from commissioners.

The work, which is set to be carried out by Impact Strategies, is expected to take three weeks to complete. The commission approved up to $50,000 for the work.

The moves would require relocating exisitng TSA offices to allow room for a second lane.

As part of the increased screening areas, TSA plans to install more screening equipment at MidAmerica, including a baggage inspection machine for $665,000, and advanced passenger screening machines for $424,000.

Director of Administration Debra Moore said the equipment, installation and maintenance would be paid for by TSA.

TSA plans to put in Advanced imaging technology, used to screen passengers. The technology allows screeners to pat down people on the area of a person’s body that may have a security concern.

TSA also plans to put in an advanced technology X-Ray in the passenger screening area.

The equipment can be installed over night, TSA officials said.

John Hursey, the federal security director for downstate Illinois, said the expansion would allow MidAmerica to have TSA Pre-Check services, and increase the amount of people screened from 140 passengers an hour to upwards of 400 passengers an hour.

“Where we are right now, we need that,” Hursey said.

The bag volume has reached a threshold needed to have advanced bag screening, Hursey said.

TSA plans to go to a semi-automatic bag screening process from a manual screening process. They can go from 26 bags an hour per person to 140 bags an hour, Hursey said.

Passengers have been buying tickets and filling the increased flights out of the airport, leading to the upgrades, commissioners said.

“We still have a very hungry market for the flight serves Allegiant is currently offering,” said Commissioner Jim Nations.

Other items

▪  Commissioners approved extending the consultant contract for John Chang, who works with MidAmerica Airport to develop air cargo service between the airport and Asia.

The contract was extended for six months and will include a $12,000 stipend.

The cost could reach $10,000 a month depending on the services provided by Chang as needed.

“But we don’t use all that because we keep it down to some task oriented pieces, like coordination and translation on letters,” said Airport Director Tim Cantwell.

▪  The Public Building Commission approved using Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, Inc. to be the consultant to help update the airport’s master plan.

Nations said the cost of the consultant is to be determined, but should be paid for with federal money.

▪  Commissioners approved having BRiC Partnership Consulting Engineers prepare plans for the installation of new parking lot gates and payment system at the County Annex building’s parking lot.

The parking lot is at the intersection of A and First Streets. The design and construction oversight services is slated to cost $39,750, according to commission documents.

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter