Two major construction projects highlight the final pieces of a top to bottom makeover of Terminal 1 at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley joined Lambert Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge in announcing Tuesday that construction will begin on a $6.7 million project to replace the original copper roof on Lambert’s historic domed vaults. 

“The days are numbered to see the wonderful green patina on top of this architecturally historic building,” said Mayor Francis Slay.  “The new skin will shine of raw copper like it did in the mid-‘50s when the Terminal was built. The roof will slowly transform in color again with time as this Airport serves new generations in this region.”

As that project begins, the Airport is winding down on a budgeted $50.7 million project to overhaul its baggage system in the lowest level of its terminals which will improve efficiencies in screening checked baggage and immediately upgrade the customer experience during the check-in process.

The new inline baggage system in Terminal 1 is now fully operational.  Passengers in Terminal 1 can now hand off their luggage at the ticket counter versus having to transport bags to multiple explosive detection system (EDS) machines that were installed in the ticketing areas after 9/11.  Terminal 1 now operates with three EDS 9800 series machines that are now out of public view.  A new 4,200 linear feet conveyor system transports luggage from every Terminal 1 airline ticket counter, through the new EDS machines, and on to the airlines for pickup to the aircraft.  If bags need further screening, the system automatically diverts them to a resolution room where security officers will do a hands-on inspection to ensure there is no threat.

The inline baggage system for Terminal 2 is set to go live in April. It will operate in the same way and will be equipped with the same EDS machines. That system has a shorter total conveyor run of 2,258 linear feet.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is covering 90 percent of the eligible project costs, or approximately $45.6 million, through grants and funding that were announced in 2010.

"Incorporating state-of-the-art Explosive Detection System technology into an automated system such as we now have at STL not only increases efficiencies and allows for airport growth, but it reduces TSA officer injuries from lifting and moving heavy bags," said Federal Security Director Bill Switzer.   "In fact, most alarms can be resolved in the image resolution room without ever opening a bag."  

“For passengers, it’s a return to the days of being able to actually check-in your bags at the ticket counter which is a convenience we haven’t been able to experience at Lambert in more than 12 years.” said Lambert Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge. “Better yet, the stand-alone screening machines in the ticket areas will no longer be needed, freeing up space and improving the open space of our terminals.”

During the last two years, the baggage system construction was synched with on-going Airport Experience renovations that included major upgrades to Terminal 1 flooring, lighting, ticket counters, restrooms and signage. The $70 million renovation program, which also included improvements to Concourses A and C, wraps up this spring.

The new copper roof is the project that will top off all these recent improvements. The Airport is replacing the 60-year old solid copper roof with copper that’s bonded with a stainless steel core for greater durability. Demolition will begin on the most-eastern dome with demolition of the existing roof and installation of the new roof phased in moving west over the next 10 months. The project calls for installing approximately 102,000 sq. ft. of the copper material to cover the four domes.  After installation, the original light bronze color of the copper will begin to turn dark brown within a year due to exposure to the elements. Over the next 20 years or so, the roof will patina to a soft green.

The roof construction will be led by general contractor Kozeny-Wagner. The major contractors for the new baggage system are C. Rallo/ Hunt Joint Venture, Five Star Airport Alliance and Vanderlande Industries.