Airport to upgrade wireless Internet, entrance road lighting

elyportillo@charlotteobserver.comOctober 29, 2013 

The statute of Queen Charlotte is highlighted in front of a plane taking off at sunrise at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

  • Airport to absorb higher TSA costs A change in policy by the Transportation Security Administration will cost Charlotte Douglas $550,000, the airport said Tuesday. The TSA is transferring the responsibility for monitoring exit lanes from the secure areas of the terminal from itself to individual airports nationwide. At Charlotte Douglas, the change will take place Jan. 1. That change will add $550,000 to the airport’s costs. Charlotte Douglas plans to ask City Council in November to approve a contract in that amount to outsource the new security requirement. The added cost at Charlotte Douglas is less than some other airports have estimated. At Boston Logan International Airport, the new policy will add an estimated $4.5 million to that airport’s annual costs to monitor its 15 exit lanes. Ely Portillo

Travelers at Charlotte Douglas International Airport should soon notice faster Internet in terminals and energy-efficient lighting on the new airport entrance road, after City Council approved spending $400,000 on upgrades Monday.

Charlotte Douglas officials said they are upgrading the speed of the airport’s free wireless network from 100 MB to 1,000 MB by year’s end. The airport said demand for bandwidth from the multiplying number of wireless devices has increased since 2006, when Charlotte Douglas first started offering free wireless Internet.

“As a result, there is often degradation of service or no Internet access for passengers,” the airport said in a summary to the Charlotte City Council.

AT&T won a $190,022 contract to upgrade the airport’s wireless capacity.

Also Monday, the City Council voted to install $211,000 worth of energy-efficient LED lighting along the airport’s new entrance road, which is scheduled to be completed in fall 2014. The $18.2-million road will connect Wilkinson Boulevard and Josh Birmingham Parkway to the terminal.

The road will be lighted with 52 poles from Duke Energy, which will carry 140-watt LED bulbs. Normal city streets are lighted with 400-watt, high-pressure sodium fixtures. The airport said the LED lights use less electricity and put out white light, leading to better visibility.

Charlotte Douglas is owned by the city but is self-funded with revenue from concessions, parking and airline landing fees.

Monday, City Council also approved the airport’s purchase of more than 19 acres, privately owned, in several parcels for almost $4.2 million. Most of the purchases are part of the airport’s plan to acquire a 370-acre neighborhood south of Charlotte Douglas. The airport owns more than 6,000 acres.

Portillo: 704-358-5041 On Twitter @ESPortillo

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