FAA provides millions for airport upgrades in Palm Springs, Calif.

The Press-Enterprise via NewsEdge Corporation : Aug. 31--The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded more than $6.5 million to Palm Springs International Airport to expand and upgrade its security and screening areas and add a new public-information display system, airport officials said Tuesday.

Construction on these projects will begin early next year, said airport director Richard Walsh.

The airport expects to receive a similar grant in 2005 to help expand the terminal and replace the passenger holding areas at gates 2 and 3, Walsh added.

"These are part of a larger master plan for all future development at the airport," that will also include work on the ticketing area, the baggage claim and the roads, said assistant director of aviation Barry Griffith by phone.

The FAA grant will help the airport add two lanes to its passenger screening area, which currently has three lanes. It will also pay for new kinds of security technology that could help control access to the tarmac and other parts of the airport.

Lastly, the grant will fund a new public-information display system that will be able to give flight information, security details and other alerts.

"We can use it for a whole host of things," Walsh said, from alerting passengers of the current security threat level to informing them about lost or missing items.

Palm Springs International serves more than 1.3 million passengers a year with 13 airlines that fly nonstop to 17 destinations in North America.