See the new plans for Southwest Florida International Airport

Getting you through Transportation Security Administration faster as part of its airport expansion. Southwest Florida International Airport will work on getting airport security to meet growth and demand. That means a new plan to make checkpoints more efficient.

From the outside looking in visitors, like Cristen Brannon, who is from Pittsburgh, prefers RSW’s unique design with three separate security checkpoints determined by your airline.

“It seems to be pretty organized, very efficient,” Brannon said. “We just came back into the airport and couldn’t believe how little foot traffic there seemed to be and just there’s not that huge traditional conglomeration of people in one spot.”

But during the season, the calm on Tuesday turns into a crush of people.

“The TSA line was extremely, extremely long through the terminal coming in,” said Josh Richardson, “passengers waiting out of this airport at arrivals.”

People can wait more than an hour to get through security. Jeff Mulder, the director of the Lee County Port Authority, said the board is rolling out a $1.7 million plan to cut back on those wait times.

The plan will create up to two additional security lines per concourse.

“It will be very congested and crowded,” Mulder said. “We think that will help speed the lines up.”

These changes are expected to be completed by October or November. It will allow passengers to board their planes much faster.

“Usually we go right through,” said John and Sue Evans from Chicago. “Maybe 5 minutes. Ten minutes.”

‘We have to stay ahead of the growth’

New designs are taking flight. The plans to expand RSW are more than halfway complete. The renderings include a new gate, amenities and consolidating concourses.

RSW is one of the newest airports in the nation. The terminal is less than 15-years-old. But the lines are backed up this season.

“The lines were backed all the way into this lobby area waiting to go through security,” said John Evans, who is from Chicago and had to wait 45 minutes in the line.

Last year, around 9 million people traveled through RSW. This year, it is bound to increase to 10 million passengers.

“People are moving here and people are using that airport more and more,” said Brian Hamman, a Lee County commissioner. “We have to stay ahead of the growth.”

That is why the airport is gearing up for a $200 million renovation.

“The engineer renderings, they’ve tried to add a lot of glass, a lot of open space,” Hamman said. “They’ve tried to bring the outdoors into the expansion, so it feels open and very Florida.”

But the most significant change is the 18-line centralized security checkpoint, which will be usable by 2023.

“As long as the lines move, that’s fine,” Evans said. “It wouldn’t bother me.”

“I don’t think that’s a good way to do it,” Brannon said. “If you can disperse the people into their individual lines, then it makes more sense.”

Airport leaders are looking even farther ahead of this project.

“We have on our long-range plan,” Mulder said, “space available for a second runway.”

Reporter:Janae Muchmore
Writer:Michael Mora
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