Security tight at airport's new baggage check-in job

Security concerns are so paramount on a major construction project at Reno-Tahoe International Airport that plans were kept under lock and key and could be viewed only in a highly secure room.

Work on the new $60 million airport baggage check-in facility at airport will be far removed from the days when the baggage claim terminal was built at the north end of the airport 10 years ago, Public Affairs Manager Brian Kulpin says.

"When we built the baggage claim, that was really a 'front-of-the-house' construction project," Kulpin says. "That was about customer service getting people in and out of the airport. But absolutely extra measures have been taken with this (new) project."

Security is paramount to construction at the airport in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. And the security extended to the documents builders reviewed to make their bids.

"They couldn't take pictures, they couldn't make copies or take anything out of the room. It is sensitive security material," Senior Program Manager Danette Bewley says.

Norm Dianda, president of Q&D Construction, which was awarded the $48 million construction contract, says the procedure posed a slight nuisance but was understandable."All subcontractors and suppliers had to come to the to the secured office space to do their takeoffs from the plans," he says. "It is an inconvenience, but at the same time it is under the strict control of somebody watching over the plans every day.

"You have to admire the fact that our city and our country goes to the extreme to protect people that travel by air today," Dianda adds. "This is just one of those things that everyone understands, and everyone does their job as instructed."

Every engineer, architect, contractor and subcontractor hired to work the site must complete a detailed federal background check and sign a non-disclosure agreement as well. Kulpin says the construction compound will be completely fenced, and the people working for Q&D will have to use a security badge to access the facility and sign out at the end of the day.

"They will not be able to take out any plans or any type of information we are not even allowing cell phones on the site because cell phones have cameras," Bewley says. "We have been instructed by the (Transportation Security Administration) that this is considered a sensitive security project; therefore we have taken so many precautions to ensure that the documentation and the integrity of the project is maintained so that no secure information is released."

Although the airport remains tight-lipped about details of the project, it has enacted a multi-faceted communications plan to spread word of the changes to Reno-area travelers as well as to out-of-state visitors.

"We are working really hard to communicate to the public that their next trip out of town will include a trip to a construction site," Bewley says. "We want them coming to the airport knowing that, so they allow for a little extra travel time."

For out-of-state travelers, the airport has flat screens placed throughout the lobby and baggage claim areas that will play a short video informing travelers of the project. Bewley says the airport also has talked to hotels in Reno and at Lake Tahoe to have the video placed in all in-room channels, as well as in casino shuttle buses. The airport also can push the video segment to conventioneers' Websites via the RSCVA.

"I don't think it is unusual to have construction going on in airports it is just part of being in an airport.

We need to keep up with the latest technology, especially when it is security-related," Bewley says.

Details and updates of the Airport Baggage Claim project can be found at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment