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August 5, 2015   |   Grand Junction Daily Sentinel - Gary Harmon

Legislators want TSA explanation for GJ denial

The Transportation Security Administration owes a full explanation about why it rejected Grand Junction Regional Airport's perimeter security plan, three federal legislators said.

That explanation is due directly from a "senior-level" official of the agency, the legislators said in a letter to Peter Neffenger, TSA administrator.

Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said the TSA should "work swiftly and in good faith with local leaders and help them develop a solution that fully complies with TSA security guidelines while, at the same time, not restricting public access to local businesses and attractions."

The TSA will respond directly to the legislators, a spokesperson said.

The letter comes on the heels of a rejection letter from the TSA of the airport's plan to remove two gates that separate airport businesses and hangars from the public.

Help from the legislators is welcome, said Steve Wood, the airport authority board member who heads its security-solutions committee.

Wood and other airport officials until late in July had been led to believe their plan would be accepted by the agency, prompting Wood to say the airport had been "bait-and-switched."

TSA officials said the rejection wasn't the last word and that talks would continue.

That's not enough, the legislators wrote.

"We understand that prevention and detection of unauthorized access are critical requirements to a viable airport security plan and support TSA's mandate to ensure that airports across the country are safe and secure," the legislators wrote. "However, we also believe that TSA owes community leaders a full explanation of why their proposal was rejected despite years of collaboration and positive feedback."

Installation of the gates resulted in the closure of several airport businesses, the letter said. It also closed off from the public the Commemorative Air Force Rocky Mountain Wing Museum, which displays artifacts from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.


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