Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is about to begin an expansion of its main security checkpoint queuing area and plans to add more automated smart security lanes.
The Atlanta airport plans to add up to 20 more security "smart lanes," which include a conveyor belt that automatically returns bins to the start of the lane. The $9 million project will be paid for with Atlanta airport funds, according to Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Reese McCranie.
TSA says the new lanes, also known as innovation lanes, can speed security processing by up to 30 percent.
The lanes, which were first tested at Hartsfield-Jackson starting in May at the Terminal South security checkpoint with a $1 million investment by Delta Air Lines, have multiple stations for travelers to load bins that have RFID chips.
Since the test in Atlanta, other airports and airlines around the country have also announced plans to add the new lanes.
In Atlanta, smart lanes will replace many of the regular lanes at the main checkpoint and the Terminal North and Terminal South checkpoints. The additional lanes will roll out gradually by summer 2017. The airport does not yet have funding for smart lanes at the international terminal.
Individual lanes will close as new ones are built, but the construction will not require that an entire checkpoint be closed -- as was the case in May for three weeks while the first two lanes were built for testing at the Terminal South checkpoint. That checkpoint closure led to long lines winding around the terminal and into baggage claim.
Meanwhile, a construction project to widen the switchback queuing area at the main checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson began Tuesday evening.
From Tuesday through Friday, the main security checkpoint will be closed overnight from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., and passengers will be directed to another checkpoint.
When the project is complete next summer, it is expected to help prevent the lines from backing up into the atrium and make room for future growth.
But in order to get the extra space for security lines, on Tuesday evening the airport will shutter the only Starbucks in the pre-security area of the domestic terminal and five other airport shops.
The Starbucks, Brooks Brothers, Brighton, Z Market, Simply Books and Drugs & More in the terminal will be demolished.
The airport has been working to find a way to replace the Starbucks, and said a Starbucks will eventually open in the atrium.
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