Bennet, Gardner, Tipton Press TSA to Work toward Resolution of Grand Junction Airport Security Plan

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and U.S. Representative Scott Tipton are pressing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to help resolve a request from the Grand Junction Regional Airport to amend its security plan. With little explanation, the TSA rejected on July 23 the airport's proposed security amendment to remove two perimeter security gates that block access to businesses and local attractions.

In a letter to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, the lawmakers requested a senior-level TSA official visit Grand Junction to work with airport officials and local leaders on a solution that meets all of TSA's security guidelines.

"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 lawmakers 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.

"We urge you to dispatch a senior-level TSA official to work swiftly and in good faith with local leaders and help them to develop a solution that fully complies with TSA security guidelines while, at the same time, not restricting public access to local businesses and attractions."

Full Text of the Letter:

August 3, 2015

Dear Administrator Neffenger:

We write regarding the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) recent rejection of the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority's proposed security amendment. The proposal sought to remove two of the perimeter security gates that currently impede access to facilities around the airport.

For several years, airport authorities, government officials, and business leaders have advocated for the removal of security gates on the airport premises. According to airport officials, the gates were needlessly installed in 2011 and are not required under TSA security regulations. The two gates currently block access to several local businesses and attractions. In fact, several airport-related businesses have closed their doors because of the gates. They have even blocked access to the Commemorative Air Force Rocky Mountain Wing Museum, which contains artifacts from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

For the last two years, airport officials have worked closely with state- and federal-level TSA authorities to develop what they believed was a mutually acceptable and viable solution to remove the gates and secure the airport premises. State-level TSA officials were consistently engaged in the process, providing constructive input and suggesting changes on the proposal's direction. Based on this feedback, airport officials submitted the final proposal last month, confident that it complied with TSA regulations. Despite this collaborative effort, TSA rejected the proposed security amendment on July 23, 2015.

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. 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.

We urge you to dispatch a senior-level TSA official to work swiftly and in good faith with local leaders and help them to develop a solution that fully complies with TSA security guidelines while, at the same time, not restricting public access to local businesses and attractions.

Sincerely,

Michael Bennet
U.S. Senator

Cory Gardner
U.S. Senator

Scott Tipton
U.S. Representative

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