When you’re driving around the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) or racing down the the rainbow light tunnel to catch a flight, you’re probably not thinking about who’s in charge — but it’s worth learning a little more about the Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA).
The Detroit Documenters recently covered a WCAA meeting for the first time to learn more about the agency.
How the WCAA works
The authority controls hundreds of millions in revenue from airlines and travelers (parking isn’t cheap!). The authority is managed by a seven-member Board of Directors, which is responsible for managing and operating DTW, The Westin hotel inside of DTW and Willow Run Airport near Ypsilanti. The board hires staff in charge of running the airport day to day.
The WCAA was established by the state in 2002, and it is subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. Board members are appointed by the Wayne County executive, the Wayne County Commission and the governor. Appointments range from two to eight years. The term of member Marvin Beatty, who works as the vice president of community and public relations at the Hollywood Casino at Greektown, is expiring at the beginning of October.
What the WCAA is working on now — and what it means for your travel time
At its Sept. 20 meeting, the board heard financial updates on capital improvement projects at both airports. More than two-thirds of the funding sources for these projects are financed with bonds, and about 20% comes from the federal government.
Get ready for some traffic congestion and delays at DTW as rehabilitation projects on the tunnels on John D. Dingell Drive begin. Projects include road repairs, lighting and electrical work, ventilation, flood mitigation and storm drain replacement. The entire rehab is scheduled to start later this year and take between two and three years to complete.
New security scanners, designed to expedite the passenger screening process, have landed at the airport. The Transportation Security Administration is currently testing 13 baggage scanning machines in the McNamara Terminal. A learning curve means back-ups are happening as staff and passengers get used to the equipment, so you might want to budget a bit more time before your flight.
DTW CEO Chad Newton shared that the airport has already won three industry awards this year, including being recognized as the best “mega airport” in North America for customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power. Newton said he didn’t know of any other airport that has won all three awards in one year.
Detroit Documenters Amelia Benavides-Colón and Paige Rollins contributed to this report. Read their meeting notes and live tweets.