Denver International Airport's $61.7 million backup baggage system has passed a key test, leaving engineers reason to believe that the airport will be ready to open by its Feb. 28 target date.

The backup system, which Mayor Wellington Webb called for in May after DIA's opening was delayed a fourth time by a faulty automated baggage system, successfully moved about 42 bags a minute in a test run Thursday. The system is designed to move 30 bags a minute.Project staffer Frank Reilly, who timed and counted suitcases around the conveyor loop, said the system can do even better: "We've seen 45 bags a minute, but if they load it too fast, it'll jam."

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The test signaled substantial completion of bag-moving machinery for the garage part of two west-side "modules" in DIA's terminal. If installation is as smooth on three remaining modules, DIA could make its Feb. 28 opening.

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