Steamboat Springs Too many travelers bustling through Yampa Valley Regional Airport this holiday season are scoffing at new security regulations designed to thwart potential terrorist acts, airport manager Jim Parker said.
Parker is concerned the consequences will inconvenience everyone traveling through the airport.
Specifically, Parker is worried about motorists leaving their cars unattended in the passenger drop-off lane. He says they are doing so in direct conflict with FAA regulations instituted shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C.
"The sheriff's department has been issuing tickets, which is not a solution," Parker said. "Leaving a ticket on the windshield isn't good enough. In the eyes of the FAA, an unattended vehicle is a threat. If it doesn't change, we will begin towing vehicles from the curbside (drop-off lane). If that doesn't work, we'll have to move the curbside back, which also is not a good solution."
Parker said he has been told that in one case, a sheriff's deputy advised an airport visitor that unless he moved his car, he would be ticketed. The man inquired about the amount of the ticket, and when he was told it was $20 he responded, "go ahead, give me a ticket."
Parker said if he finds there is no other alternative other than to move the curbside arrival lane back, it could result in a walk the length of a football field through the snow. In many cases, the arriving passengers would be toting ski equipment, as well as luggage.
Parker said that after the terrorist attacks in September, the FAA decreed that the drop-off lanes for departing passengers would have to be a minimum of 300 feet away from the terminal building.
"In the eyes of the FAA, Hayden is no different than Denver or any other major city," Parker said.
However, YVRA was given a special allowance to keep its drop-off lane close to the terminal, as long as no cars were allowed to be left unattended.
Sheriff's deputies, and special deputies from other local law enforcement agencies are patrolling the area. Parker said the sheer volume of arriving passengers during the holidays has been a lot to handle.
Parker said the commercial side of the airport arrival situation is working well. Taxis and shuttle vans are complying with the regulations.
"My appeal to the public is to work with us," Parker said. "The absolute worst situation would be if we had to push (the arrival lane) back 300 feet."