Airport mulls adding larger baggage scanner

Technology may change the plans for the new $13 million terminal at Yellowstone Regional Airport.

The YRA board, during its June 11 meeting, learned that a new baggage scanning device has been developed. It's capable of scanning carry-on and checked bags at the same time.

But architects planning the new midfield terminal already had designed space for two baggage check stations, one for carry-on bags and another for checked bags.

Because the new machine could require up to twice the length of either presently-planned device, engineers and architects working on the new terminal told the YRA board some decisions must be made soon.

The board decided to have planners investigate buying the new equipment, though they did not make a decision on the purchase.

The new scanner can handle about 400 pieces of baggage per hour, while the two scanners handle about 125 bags per hour.

Architects said the new device is about 60 feet long - twice the length of the planned scanning devices.

But because there would be just one scanner instead of two, the entire building could be built shorter and save money in the long run.

After looking at a sketch of the terminal utilizing the new equipment, board chairman Jim Vanaman said installing the single device might improve the facility.

“It looks like it could be an enhancement to the new terminal,” Vanaman said.

With just one scanner that operates more quickly, some Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff might be eliminated, saving the government money as well, the board was told.

“I think we should at least look at it,” said Gene Wasia of Morrison Maierle Engineers.

Board member Garret Growney said it's “fortunate this (potential change) happened now and not after the foundation is poured.”

The new terminal will be built in several phases, though the exact number is not totally determined.

The first phase is nearly completed. It involves installing utility infrastructure and storm water detention ponds.

The next phase, slated to begin next year, involves building the airline ramp and automobile parking lots. The lots will be gravel-only at first and will serve as a staging area for equipment brought in during construction of the building itself.

The next phases of terminal construction probably will take place in 2010-11 and will consist of building roads leading to the terminal and the perimeter fencing.

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