Expect longer lines at airport if federal cuts take effect

Expect longer lines at airport if federal cuts take effect »Play Video
A TSA agent works at Portland International Airport. If the across-the-board cuts take effect, TSA screeners would be cut back, according to the Homeland Security Department.

PORTLAND, Ore. – If lawmakers in the nation's capital don't close a budget deal to prevent across-the-board cuts, travelers at Portland International Airport would have a harder time reaching their planes, and maintenance for airport radar would also take a hit.

The federal Homeland Security Department says it will have to cut back on TSA screeners at PDX and across the nation if the mandatory budget cuts take effect.

Officials say waits for passengers would be significantly longer.

And the only thing more frustrating for Kathy Stine than ending a long trip at PDX is the talk of across-the-board federal cuts.

"They're cutting everything, everywhere. I think it's really sad.  If our government would get their act together, it wouldn't be necessary," she said. "They always threaten to cut education, fire and police – that's the typical, political farce.  That's just ridiculous. I don't believe that anyway."

Jerry Gibson just returned to Portland after a long stay overseas in a nation that's only now coming to grips with out-of-control debt.

"I think we as a nation need to knuckle down," he said. "I actually have lived in Spain, and I've seen some of the austerity measures that they've put into place and recognize that we've just gotta – we've gotta tighten our belt."

Those familiar with the planned cuts say they include maintenance for PDX's airport radar.

If the main radar fails, Portland International Airport would use a backup system. If that fails, Salem would take over with a system not nearly as accurate as the radar at PDX.

Another possible cut is closing the Troutdale Airport's tower, which could slow down operations at PDX if aircraft have to start flying out of Portland International instead.