Workers have begun adding security measures around Atlantic City International Airport that are designed to thwart terrorist attacks and address vulnerabilities identified years earlier.
The work, which began Monday and is expected to be completed by September, will likely lead to travel delays in the coming weeks as the sidewalk and roadway by the terminal entrance will be blocked off to allow for installation of 144 bollards.
“It’s going to cause a significant impact,” South Jersey Transportation Authority’s security and operations manager Kevin Rehmann said of the installation work.
Bollards are vertical posts intended to keep vehicles from crashing into the terminal. Similar barriers are installed or slated for installation at airports across the country, including John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia.
A security study conducted years ago identified several spots at Atlantic City International Airport, in Egg Harbor Township, that are vulnerable to terrorist attack, particularly from a speeding vehicle intent on crashing into the terminal, Rehmann said.
“We recognized we needed them,” he said of the deterrents.
But due to budget constraints, the airport remained without the bollards, a project that can cost as much as half a million dollars, Rehmann said. However, when a $27 million project to add three departure and arrival gates to the airport received approval, officials added installation of the bollards to the project list.
The bollards rise about 3 feet from the ground and are not only interconnected underground but are set in about 3-feet-deep concrete, allowing them to effectively stop a speeding vehicle from reaching the terminal.
“We’ll have them strategically placed,” Rehmann said of the bollards.
While the measures are designed to make the airport safer, travelers said they were drawn to flying in and out of Atlantic City precisely because the terminal lacks the strict security measures more often found at busy airports in Philadelphia and New York.
“It’s easy,” said Kayla Black, 19, who was flying to South Carolina on Monday. “I can come out here 20 minutes before my flight and go through security quickly.”
While signs in front of the terminal prohibit vehicles from idling, drivers who were there to pick up passengers sat in their vehicles by the airport curb undisturbed.
The lax rules are much different than at traffic-clogged Philadelphia International Airport, said Darius Cash, 51, of Bridgeton, who, along with his wife, sat waiting in their truck for their son to arrive on a plane from Florida.
“We love coming here,” Cash said. “We prefer it.”
Siobhan Morrissey, who arrived Monday from Miami, Fla., to visit family in the area, said she saw little in the way of security at the airport, but that was to be expected.
“You don’t expect a terrorist attack in Atlantic City,” she said.
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