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Indianapolis Airport Built For Post-9/11 World

When September 11, 2001, occurred, the Indianapolis airport already had plans to replace its aging terminal.

Indianapolis Airport

Photo: Bill Shaw/WTIU News

The Indianapolis airport was designed for increased security in a post 9/11 world.

Immediately after 9-11, the Indianapolis International Airport, along with every other major airport in the country, scrambled to implement new security measures. The newly constructed terminal in Indianapolis was specifically designed to be adaptive as a post-9/11 airport.

In September of 2001, plans were already underway to build a new billion dollar airport terminal to replace Indianapolis’ aging one constructed in the 1950′s. Airport Chief Operating Officer Mike Medvescek saw the security measures being implemented by the newly created Transportation Security Administration, and knew the new airport would have to be able to handle the changing policies and equipment.

“I would say the most significant change,” he said, “was the amount of space we have going forward for screening, TSA screening at the airport.  The more accessibility to the environment, I would say the lighting is much more ambient.”

Designed For Heightened Security

Following 9/11, passengers and airports alike faced greater scrutiny, says Indiana TSA Federal Security Director David Cane.

“The biggest challenge immediately following 9/11,”  he said, “(was) to get every airport re-certified, and then of course there was a series of revolving regulations and changes that we just worked through with the partners, the airports and the airlines.”

While working on the new terminal design, Cane and his staff worked directly with the Indianapolis Airport Authority to build a more open space that would best serve both travelers, and security personnel.

“The Airport Authority was very collaborative with TSA in the development of the security checkpoints at Indianapolis,” Cane said. “They recognized that there was an evolutionary processed taking place, that the technology was changing on a regular basis, that the intelligence was changing on a regular basis, and that in order to be in front of  that’ it was necessary to have the real estate available to allow for those changes to be made without a lot of retrofitting.”

Because of Indianapolis’ modern security checkpoint, the airport can employ the newest scanning technology from the TSA.  Indianapolis was one the first airports to employ the radiation-free millimeter wave scanners, which eliminate the need to for metal detectors and pat downs, unless the device detects a foreign object on the person being scanned.  One result of the design is that the wait time to clear security in Indianapolis is less than in many airports – often just 10 to 15 minutes.

Dan Goldblatt

Dan Goldblatt is the Multi-media Producer for WFIU/WTIU News. A graduate of Indiana University, he studied journalism and anthropology. He currently lives in Bloomington with his cat, June Carter.

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  • PB

    “Built for a post 9/11 world?”
    This airport was not only over-built and unnecessary.  It was justified based on projections of eternal “growth” in the number of airline flights, an assumption proven to be wildly inaccurate.  Our depletion of fossil fuels has increased the cost of jet fuel and the cost of air travel.  This trend will continue, and was predictable in the late 1990′s when the new airport was proposed.  I don’t know when the cost of oil will reach $200 or $300 or $400 a barrel, making airline flight too expensive and turning the airport into an eerie, vacant structure, but I think it will be long before the projected useful life of the airport is reached. 

    Every time I travel through the airport, I see 5 or 6 TSA personnel just standing around, regardless of how backed up the security lines are.  And while the new airport is certainly beautiful and spacious, we really did not need it.  The old airport was fine.  It would have been interesting if the story compared the annual operating budget of the old and new airport terminals (including the cost to retire the construction debt).

    To be sure, there are many organizations that profited handsomely from the new airport, especially businesses in the construction industry.  Now, the taxpayers are stuck with paying for this unnecessary boondoggle, and all the ongoing expenses to maintain and staff it.  The new airport is yet another example of the spend, spend, spend mindset of the government, which continues to find itself unable to resist the swan songs of corporate lobbyists.  We must find a way to restrain our spendthrift government officials.  

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