Hartsfield-Jackson adding to smart lanes at security checkpoints to speed screening

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May 25, 2016 - Atlanta - TSA agent Darren Walker (left) helps passengers using the new system, where they slide their baggage onto the automated rollers. TSA unveiled new security "smart lanes" that have been installed in the South Security Checkpoint, which feature automated equipment that handles baggage. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has started construction to add another automated “smart lane” at the South security checkpoint aimed at speeding the screening of travelers.

The construction started Nov. 1, according to the Atlanta airport, and is expected to be complete before Thanksgiving.

But the airport is not shutting down the entire South checkpoint for the construction, as it did in the spring when the first two smart lanes were built. The checkpoint closure led to lines snaking around the terminal in May.

This time, the South checkpoint remains open during construction.

“What we’re doing is we’ve got one lane that’s being built and it’s just walled off, so the rest of South can still be used while this one is being swapped out,” said Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Reese McCranie. “We’re not going to do anything that will impact passenger flow during busy holiday periods.”

The smart lanes include multiple stations for travelers to load bins that have RFID chips, as well as a conveyor belt that automatically returns bins to the start of the lane. The new lanes can speed security processing by up to 30 percent, according to airport officials.

May 25, 2016 - Atlanta - Powered rollers transport bags automatically through the screening process. TSA unveiled new security "smart lanes" that have been installed in the South Security Checkpoint, which feature automated equipment that handles baggage. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Powered rollers transport bags automatically through the screening process. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

The lanes were first tested at Hartsfield-Jackson starting in May with two new lanes at the South security checkpoint paid for with a $1 million investment by Delta Air Lines. Now, other airports and airlines around the country are adding the new lanes.

The addition of a third smart lane at the four-lane South checkpoint is part of a bigger project to add 20 more smart lanes to Hartsfield-Jackson by Memorial Day 2017. The $9 million project will be paid for with Atlanta airport funds, according to McCranie.

Construction of two new smart lanes at the North security checkpoint will start in early December, according to the airport. The rest of the new lanes will be installed at the Main security checkpoint and the North checkpoint in late winter and early spring.

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