Northwest Arkansas National Airport expands TSA checkpoint

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 2,246 views 

XNA recently added about 5,300 square feet to its security checkpoint. The project will allow for a fourth checkpoint lane.

Northwest Arkansas National Airport (XNA) in Highfill recently opened an expanded security checkpoint that will allow for a fourth checkpoint lane.

Board members of the Northwest Arkansas National Airport Authority approved the $4.14 million expansion project in 2018. Springdale contractor Milestone Construction Co. was hired to complete the 5,300-square-foot expansion.

“The security expansion will allow us to better accommodate the growing number of passengers coming through XNA,” said Andrew Branch, chief business development officer at XNA. “We are excited by the prospect of improving the quality of service for our customers.”

Construction started Dec. 10, 2018, and the majority of the work was not visible to passengers, said Tim House, director of planning, engineering and construction at XNA. In the final phase of the project, workers installed scaffolding around the existing checkpoint. This allowed work to be completed above the equipment operated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers and passengers.

“Most of the major work in that area occurred at night, but some activities were completed while the checkpoint was in operation,” House said. “This resulted in our frequent travelers being surprised by a nearly complete checkpoint once the scaffolding came down. They could not believe that we had built that much space in just a few weeks.”

The expansion work started before the TSA agreed to provide the equipment for a fourth checkpoint lane, House said. In October, the TSA committed to provide the equipment. A timeline for the installation of the new equipment has yet to be determined, but the hope is it begins operating within five months.

“In the meantime, the additional queuing space will prevent passenger lines from backing up into the upstairs lobby,” House said. “At times, the lines were so long that it was difficult to get off of the escalator. This made it difficult to keep the lines organized and the passengers moving in an orderly fashion.”

As a result of the project, the terminal has been expanded to 194,500 square feet, said Ryan Hannan, assistant project coordinator at XNA.