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Passengers can park closer to airport terminal

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Nov. 23, 2001
Passengers using the Meridian Regional Airport can park closer to the terminal these days.
But Airport Authority President Tom Williams is prepared if the Federal Aviation Administration imposes another parking restriction.
The FAA banned parking within 300 feet of any airport terminal in the country within days of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The FAA lifted its parking restrictions in mid-October for smaller airports like Meridian.
The restrictions nevertheless proved costly to smaller airports, whose budgets were eaten by additional security personnel and cumbersome parking arrangements.
In Meridian, passengers were shuttled to the terminal from a nearby industrial parking lot. The Airport Authority was prepared to spend an additional $180,000 on new security requirements.
With an operating budget of $206,000 a year, Williams needed an option to avoid the city and county from eventually subsidizing the airport.
Williams secured the services of the Vicksburg office of Applied Research Associates Inc. to conduct a bomb-blast analysis of the 40-year-old building.
The results of that test were returned Oct. 11, exactly one month after the attacks on New York and Washington. It said passengers could park no closer than 125 feet from the terminal if the airport installed security window film on all glass.
The $1.5 million that was going to be used to build a canopy for passengers is now being diverted to help pay for the blast analysis, the 125-foot parking arrangement and possibly the design of a newly planned terminal building, Williams said.
That means an additional parking lot will be added south of the terminal, a new access road will be constructed and a new curbside will be built 125 feet away from the building.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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