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Thursday, September 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Getting There: Holidays to bring rush at Spokane airport

The upcoming holidays mark the busy season at Spokane International Airport.

Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest time for the airport, and officials expect they will see an increase in passenger traffic over last year.

“Travel will be getting brisk here,” said Todd Woodard, airport spokesman.

The eight-day period from Nov. 20 through Nov. 27 will see thousands of travelers coming and going each day.

Travel will hit its peak Nov. 23, the day before Thanksgiving, and again Nov. 27, the Sunday after the holiday.

Airlines serving the airport will have 5,800 seats for outbound planes on both of those days and 55 flights coming and going.

Last November saw 249,000 passengers arriving to or departing from the airport.

But this year will be even busier. Travel at the airport is up 3 percent in 2016, Woodard said.

To make boarding go more smoothly, departing travelers should be inside the airport terminal 90 minutes before a scheduled domestic flight and two hours in advance of an international flight, he said.

Woodard also recommends getting ready ahead of time by making sure that any carry-on items meet security screening standards, such as the limit of 100 milliliters of liquid in a container.

Also, passengers can preprint boarding passes at home, and phone applications can provide an instant boarding pass at the airport.

Travelers also should considering enrollment in the PreCheck program offered by the Transportation Security Administration. Applications can be started at tsa.gov.

The federal government also offers a Global Entry enrollment program for international travelers. That system speeds up customs checks at border entries and provides the same benefits as PreCheck, which involves faster screening through shorter lines.

Lorie Dankers, spokeswoman and public affairs manager for TSA in the western U.S., said security screening lines should move smoothly this holiday season.

The agency has implemented measures, including the PreCheck program now with 3.9 million enrollees, to get travelers through security, Dankers said. PreCheck costs $85 and is good for five years.

“Now is the time to enroll for the holidays,” Dankers said.

Inexperienced travelers who show up unprepared for security checks can slow down progress through security.

Learning security requirements ahead of time and then following them will help.

The agency uses bomb-sniffing dogs to check travelers in larger airports to speed up security check line waits, she said.

Passengers leaving Spokane can expect a fairly quick run through security, Dankers said.

But busy airports may be another story. At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, officials expect an increase in passengers of 4 to 6 percent through December, with 16.6 million travelers passing through that airport during the holidays.

According to the New York Times, the Atlanta airport is adding more advanced security screening lanes that automate the movement of carry-on baggage. The airport also plans to increase overall hours worked by 20 percent, through overtime and seasonal hires.

Hundreds hear update on Hillyard freeway route

Hundreds of concerned Spokane residents turned out for a public meeting at Spokane Community College on Thursday for an update on the proposed route of a new north Spokane freeway through Hillyard.

Oil contamination from historic rail refueling operations may force the state to realign the freeway to avoid the contaminated site, which is under a cleanup decree.

Oil is floating on the Spokane aquifer 170 feet below the surface over about 7 acres.

The realignment would result in an elevated segment over Wellesley Avenue and the BNSF Railway’s main line.

Hillyard business leaders are against a taller freeway structure and are seeking to retain the previous alignment.

DOT officials said BNSF has offered to indemnify the state for risks associated with the cleanup, which would open the way for building the freeway on its earlier alignment.

At least one resident said the freeway should be replaced with a less intrusive arterial.

DOT officials said that would require a change in the funding bill adopted by the state Legislature in 2015.

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, said he would not support a change in law because he believes a freeway is needed.

The freeway will bring economic growth along its route, he told the audience.

Highway intersection warning signs ready

The state Transportation Department is ready to activate three new advanced intersection warning signs on U.S. Highway 395 at Burroughs Road and Crawford Road, and at U.S. Highway 2 and Colbert Road.

The yellow signs warn highway drivers to “watch for entering traffic.”

If a driver trying to enter the highways from the side roads has waited five seconds or longer, the system will activate flashing lights on the signs.

The signs have been shown to reduce intersection accidents, and DOT officials said they plan to monitor how the signs work here.

In Spokane

Paving may wrap up on 37th Avenue east of Regal Street on Wednesday.

Reconstruction of Indiana Avenue from Dakota to Perry streets should finish Monday.

Work on phase two of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Way is going to force closure of Erie Street through Friday.

On Monroe and Lincoln streets downtown, the next date for paving is Friday, weather permitting.

On Interstate 90

Eastbound off-ramp repairs at Hamilton Street will cause lane restrictions Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In Spokane Valley

In Spokane Valley, lane restrictions continue on Appleway from Park to Dishman-Mica roads.

The northbound Sullivan Road Bridge over the Spokane River is now open to oversize loads.

Commercial Road from Sprague to First avenues remains closed for paving through Nov. 10, weather permitting.

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