New terminal opening
By Cory Hatch and Katy Niner, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
May 25, 2010
Jackson Hole Airport officials will open 52,000 square feet of new terminal space Wednesday, marking the completion of much of a $31 million project that could wrap up by December.
The airport will be able to handle about 1,100 passengers per hour, up from 331 per hour, thanks to a new ticketing area and baggage handling system. The ticketing area now has room for 36 ticketing positions.
The $12.2 million baggage handling system is one of the most advanced in the country.
“We’re the first airport in the nation to receive a federal stimulus for baggage screening,” airport director Ray Bishop said. “We’re the first airport in the nation to get the fully automated Reveal system.”
The first $6.2 million of the baggage system went toward the space and the conveyer belts, while the remaining $6 million, funded through the stimulus, went toward six scanners with MRI-like technology that will allow the airport to increase its baggage screening from 80 bags per machine per hour to 227 bags per machine per hour.
The machines have the ability to scan for illicit materials automatically, as opposed to having a person who looks at each individual bag through a computer screen. If a bag passes the computer’s parameters, the bag moves onto the plane; if not, the scanner sends a picture to Transportation Security Administration agents in a back room. If the bag doesn’t pass that second step, the third step is a human search. Two of the machines are large enough to handle items such as ski bags or kayaks.
Bishop called the new terminal a “piece of art.”
“We spent a lot of time making sure the architecture was appropriate for ... Jackson Hole,” he said.
The new building includes several pieces of artwork, funded by the Kemmerer family, including a 30-foot-by-5-foot “burn painting” of a bald eagle called “Final View” by Richard Painter.
The next phase of the project includes an expansion and a remodeling of the room where passengers wait to board planes. It will be constructed in two stages this summer. Then the remodeling of the passenger screening area, scheduled for completion in December.
Bishop said the public is invited to an opening ceremony for the first phase of the terminal expansion at 8 a.m. Wednesday. That will be the only opportunity for the public to tour the baggage handling system before it is secured.
“We wanted a terminal building that reflects this special place,” Bishop said. “You don’t do this but once in a lifetime.”