After a $61 million upgrade of Honolulu Airport’s overseas terminal, passengers will not have to haul their check-in bags to the X-ray machines.
That is because the explosive detection machines clogging up the second-floor check-in lobbies will be moved to the apron level of the airport.
"People will be able to — just like the old times — just come in, check in, drop off your luggage at the same time, and they’ll make their way to the gate," said state Transportation Director Brennon Morioka. "Everything is gonna be out of sight, out of mind."
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is providing 16 explosive detection machines for lobbies 4 through 8 in the overseas terminal. The machines will have enhanced screening capabilities to detect explosives, weapons and other contraband materials.
Additional work will include construction and installation of new baggage handling systems, giving a face lift to the existing ticket lobbies, and four explosive trace detection rooms.
About $24 million of the project will come from federal stimulus funds; the rest, from budgeted airport funds.
Screening machines were placed in the lobbies because there was no other place to put them, Morioka said.
"This was all a part of ramping up of security amongst airports after 9/11," he said. "Many of the older airports were not built to accommodate the new safety requirements. You just had to find locations to stick in this security equipment."
Construction will start from lobbies 4 and 8, then work inward toward lobby 5, said Brian Bowers, president of Bowers Kubota Consulting, the construction management firm overseeing the project.
He said the project’s goal is to keep the work away from the passengers and to ensure that the check-in process is not affected.
Removing machines from the lobby will take about two weeks. The entire project, which Bowers called "detailed and complicated," will be completed in 30 months.
"We have to improve that while the existing systems are operating," Bowers said. "There’s a lot of work to be done during that small window of when the airlines are not operating."
Work on upgrading screening facilities at Kahului Airport on Maui was completed earlier this year. Six machines were installed and cost about $24.6 million, $18.5 million of which came from federal funds. Bowers said the same contractors will be working on the Honolulu project.