A third floor that was chopped out of architects plans to save money for the Guam International Airport in the mid ‘90s is being reconsidered as a $35 million security requirement.
The Guam International Airport is willing to build a third floor to satisfy national security requirements but neither of the federal agencies involved are rushing to fund division of arriving and departing passengers.
“TSA has no funds. The FAA is unable to fund any security projects or anything TSA-related because it’s TSA’s responsibility ” Frank R. Santos airport consultant said.
While it waits for a funding source for $35 million to build an additional floor to divide incoming and outgoing passengers the airport’s board is also considering a wall to divide the concourse.
That project is a lot cheaper at $4 million but does not have a funding source either.
Even if the board finds a funding source for the wall the project comes with other problems such as an as-yet-unidentified escape plan from one side of the concourse in the event of a disaster.
The chairman of the Guam International Airport Authority board of directors said while the Transportation Security Administration is insisting the airport follow its policy on segregating inbound and outbound passengers the ruling is an unfunded federal mandate.
Frank F. Blas Sr. chairman of the GIAA board told the Journal “The board is of the opinion that since this is a federal mandate then the airport should receive some assistance if not all — to comply with the mandate.”
Adolf P. Sgambelluri federal security director at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in January said he was told by a TSA inspector that GIAA needed to separate the passengers “Yesterday.” (See “TSA orders GIAA to split up airport” in the Jan. 10 issue of the Journal). Rope dividers were then placed on the concourse. “It’s working fine but its not consitent with good security ” Sgambelluri said.
GIAA continues to use the rope barriers and GIAA employees to monitor passengers’ compliance.
However the board is reviewing its options. “We’re looking at another interim measure and that would be to build corridors with the concourse that we have now but there are issues regarding the interim measure ” he said. Santos said “It reduces the airport’s capacity because as we start adding more flights then the concourse will be more congested and there would be more crossover traffic. Since not all the gates are on one side passengers have to cross the concourse which means all traffic stops — all passengers stop — until an arriving flight clears and that also adds delays.”
The concourse would be divided by a six-foot wall or glass paneling. Santos said there were concerns over safety because emergency exits only exist on one side of the barrier. According to Santos the price tag on this interim measure is pegged at around $4 million. Sgambelluri said the wall is still an interim solution and isn’t welcoming for our visitors.
The board is also exploring a longer-term solution that would create a third floor. Santos said “With the use of elevators and escalators the arriving passengers will get into an area where they would go up one level then go through a sterile corridor. This essentially would get them to where the current immigrations area is. They would then take the elevators or escalators back down to the inspection area.” He said the estimate for this proposal is about $35 million. “I think it would be much better for the airport because you would have a good delineation of what’s outbound and inbound.” Sgambelluri said.
The original airport opened its doors in 1982 funded by a $43 million bond. The terminal expansion was completed and opened in 1998. Parsons Corp. an engineering and design firm based in Pasadena Calif. with a history of building international airports originally designed the terminal with a third floor. That portion of the project was scrapped because at the time it was found to be cost-prohibitive at $50 million. The total cost of the project was $241 million. Santos said during the design phase of the GIAA terminal the administration and Parsons worked with the then Federal Aviation Administration’s security division and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to address any concerns.
GIAA continued to look at all options to gain the funding to find a less labor-intensive solution to the TSA requirement he said. GIAA might not be able to go out into the open bond market until after 2013 when it satisfies its current bond obligations Santos said. He said “The airport and its stakeholders have not made a final decision as to what the less labor intensive alternative will be.” MBJ