A brand new airport with a $4 billion price tag is now open for business in Utah’s capital city.
Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) opened on Tuesday with a new terminal, two new concourses and a new parking garage. This is the first phase of a two-phase project with the second phase scheduled to open in 2024 or ’25.
Deputy Federal Security Director Grant Goodlett said TSA will benefit in a big way.
“We had two main checkpoints which weren’t efficient due to the airport layout and expansion that took place over time,” said Goodlett. “The new airport consolidates checkpoint screening into one area along with an international checkpoint. The main checkpoint is almost the length of a football field. We also have a state-of-the-art baggage screening system with over six miles of conveyor belts which allows larger items such as skis to travel through the belts. Our officers have a very nice screening area, which is safer for them ergonomically.”
Goodlett said the old airport was built to handle around 10 million passengers per year, but in the last few years that number grew to 26 million. He noted, “Our passenger boardings reached around 32,000 several days over the 2020 ski season, pre-COVID.”
Of course, passenger loads dropped significantly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Goodlett expects those numbers to slowly climb, although it’s too early to tell when SLC will again reach the 30,000 daily mark.
He said with the new airport, TSA will see improved efficiency and have the newest technology in all screening areas.
“We will have the first remote viewing areas for our X-ray operators associated with our automated screening lanes,” said Goodlett, “so none of them will be on the actual checkpoint. This will cut down on distractions and automatically increase our security posture. Also, the images are much improved.”
TSA employees took part in two simulations in August to test how smoothly operations would run once the airport officially opened for business. That included several hours of TSA and airport staff passing through the main checkpoint with carry-on bags and testing the new technology.
TSA Advanced Threat Local Allocation Strategy teams, inspectors and canine teams also searched over 2 million square feet of the new SLC sterile area to make sure all prohibited items were removed and that SLC was ready for opening day.
Goodlett said TSA played an influential role in helping design the new airport to meet passenger security needs.
“It makes us all very proud to be a part of this enormous undertaking,” Goodlett exclaimed. “When you think this is a $4 billion project, it’s quite daunting to know we played a key role in such a venture.”
Click here to learn more about the new SLC project.