PHL GETS $26 MILLION IN STIMULUS FOR BAGGAGE SCREENING
By Linda Loyd
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The federal Department of Homeland Security today announced about $26 million in economic stimulus funds for the construction of two new baggage-screening and explosive-detection systems at Philadelphia International Airport.
Homeland Securty Secretary Janet Napolitano was in Philadelphia for the announcement, along with Gov. Rendell, Mayor Nutter and U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter and Robert Casey (both D., Pa.).
The funds are part of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed earlier this year by President Obama.
Mark Gale, acting Philadelphia Aviation Director, said the total cost of the new baggage handling systems at the airport's international terminal will be $50 million. The balance will be paid from airport funds, primarily bond funds, Gale said.
The first part of the project for the A-East international terminal is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2010. A second phase will involve construction of an airfield building for rescreening bags arriving on international flights.
Gale said much of the screening by the Transportation Safety Administration is currently done manually, and the new machines will greatly speed the process.
Napolitano said in a statement: "These state-of-the-art baggage screening systems will enhance, airport security, streamline check-in procedures for passengers, and increase safety for TSA employees."
Napolitano last Thursday announced $15 million in similar stimulus funds for San Francisco International Airport.
When this construciton is complete, Philadelphia International will have four inline screening systems, instead of eight separate screening locations.
The economic recovery act commits more than $3 billion for homeland security projects through the department and the General Services Administration.
Of $1 billion allocated to the TSA for aviation security projects, $700 million will be used for screening checked bags, and $300 million for explosive-detection equipment.
Source - Philadelphia Inquirer