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MSP airport to close security checkpoint for 3 weeks to make way for automated lanes

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has partially shut down one of two main security checkpoints for upgrades, but airport officials do not expect a significant impact on wait times.

The airport's south checkpoint closed to regular fliers for about three weeks on Tuesday, Aug. 22, according to the Metropolitan Airports Commission. Access at the checkpoint will be maintained for TSA Pre-Check users, but other travelers will need to go to the airport's north checkpoint.

Crews are installing automated screening lanes at the south checkpoint, which are expected to move travelers faster through the security process, according to airport officials.

The four lanes will usher fliers through stations where they remove shoes, belts and other metal items and put them into personal property bins. Conveyor belts will then move the property through X-ray machines. Bins with items officials decide need further inspection automatically shift to a different line, allowing others to continue uninterrupted, according to airport officials.

The automated lanes will be installed at the north checkpoint in 2018.

The four automated south checkpoint lanes will cost about $2.1 million. The automated lanes planned for next year at the larger north checkpoint are expected to cost about $4 million, according to Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan.

Work on the project was timed for a typical slow-travel period — between the summer season and the Education Minnesota conference break for students, Hogan said. And some south checkpoint staff will be directed to the larger north security lanes, where there are 10 lanes and often surplus capacity, to handle the redirected fliers, he said.

Those moves, along with keeping TSA Pre-check lanes open at the south checkpoint should alleviate any significant impact on wait times for travelers, Hogan said.

Still, the airport continues to advise travelers to arrive two hours before a domestic flight or three hours before an international flight.