Some $16 Million Recommended for Security Upgrades at Sky Harbor

PHOENIX (AP) -- A task force has recommended that Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport may need some $16 million in perimeter improvements after a recent security breach.

The panel was charged with evaluating the 14 miles of fence surrounding the airport after a man in a stolen truck was able to get onto the airfield last month and delay more than 50 flights.

It has recommended new cable restraint systems and guardrails plus a suggested beefing up of gated areas that could inadvertently give people access to the taxiway.

In the gated areas, the airport is considering installing a special hydraulic barrier that could be raised in an instant if a vehicle were trying to break through the gate.

''This is an issue that we've been concerned about for a long time,'' said Aviation Director David Krietor. ''We can't have vehicles driving onto the airfield. That's just unacceptable.''

Since that June 30 incident, officials have installed about 243 concrete barriers around the airport perimeter's most vulnerable areas.

An additional 110 will be in place by mid-August.

Airport staff will spend the next few months analyzing each of the task force's recommendations, then forward a more detailed report to the Phoenix City Council for final approval.

That report will include updated cost estimates and a timeline for getting the work done.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said Thursday that he couldn't imagine a scenario in which the City Council would not sign off on the additional costs.

Once the proposals are approved, it will likely take another nine to 12 months before the new barriers are installed.

In the months prior to the breach, Sky Harbor officials conducted an overall security review and decided to raise perimeter fencing to 8 feet in height, 2 feet higher than federal standards.

The airport also has been replacing barbed wire along the top of the fences with razor wire, officials said. That project is about 60 percent complete.