More park­ing, more gates as Austin's air­port grows

Third park­ing garage, more ter­mi­nal changes on the hori­zon

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Ben Wear bwear@states­man.com

The growth at Austin’s air­port con­tin­ues to be so re­lent­less — de­par­tures and ar­rivals are up 51 per­cent since 2009 — that be­fore of­fi­cials even started con­struc­tion on the lat­est park­ing garage, they de­cided to add an­other level.

Con­struc­tion of what will now be a 6,000-space, $250 mil­lion garage and an ad­join­ing of­fice build­ing could be­gin in a lit­tle over a month, they said.

And a $350 mil­lion project to add nine pas­sen­ger gates on the main ter­mi­nal’s east side now needs ad­di­tional fund­ing, of­fi­cials said, for more in­ter­na­tional gates, a con­course club for one air­line and re­place­ment of sev­eral of the down­stairs bag­gage carousels.

These changes at Austin-Bergstrom In­ter­na­tional Air­port, which by law is a self-sus­tain­ing city en­ter­prise, will come be­fore the Austin City Coun­cil on Thurs­day. The coun­cil will be asked to au­tho­rize a con­struc­tion con­tract for the new six-story garage on the cur­rent site of sur­face Lot A, and the 70,000-square-foot air­port ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing at the new garage’s west end.

The coun­cil will also con­sider in­creas­ing ap­pro­pri­a­tions for the air­port by $72 mil­lion — $44 mil­lion for the garage project and $28 mil­lion for the added ter­mi­nal costs — money that the air­port would bor­row by is­su­ing rev­enue bonds and pay back from air­line, pas­sen­ger, park­ing and con­ces­sion fees.

The projects come on top of other ex­pan­sions in the past five years: the “east in­fill” project for the ter­mi­nal, a sec­ond park­ing garage that opened in 2015, an added sur­face lot east of Pres­i­den­tial Boule­vard used by air­port em­ploy­ees, a sec­ond ho­tel on the air­port grounds, the re­open­ing in April of the “South Ter­mi­nal” for smaller air­lines, and 2,000 new sur­face park­ing spa­ces to the north of the Air­port Hil­ton.

“It is as­ton­ish­ing,” said Shane Harbin­son, the city’s Avi­a­tion Depart­ment as­sis­tant di­rec­tor. “We are one of the fastest-grow­ing air­ports in the U.S.”

Pas­sen­ger traf­fic — 12.4 mil­lion in 2016 — could top 13 mil­lion this year, of­fi­cials said.

The garage and of­fice project had been pro­jected to cost $206

mil­lion, Harbin­son said. But the air­port’s rapid growth, even as the project was be­ing de­signed, led to the addi- tion of an­other floor with about 1,000 park­ing spa­ces, ex­plain­ing the $44 mil­lion in­crease. Once the garage is fin­ished, along with the sur­face lots to the north, the air­port would have at least 17,000 park­ing spa­ces, not in­clud­ing 1,000 other spa­ces in the pri­vate Park­ing Spot and FastPark lots off the air- port prop­erty.

“We’re at­tract­ing more peo­ple from out­side the di­rect Austin area, in the 10-county ser­vice area, and those peo­ple are park­ing longer,” Harbin­son said. The air­port has so­licited con- struc­tion bids for the garage, he said, and, if the coun­cil ap­proves Thurs­day, “they’d be ready to start con­struc- tion by the end of April.”

The garage should be com­plete in about two years, with the of­fice build­ing open­ing about six months later.

The of­fice build­ing, offi- cials said, would al­low about 50 air­port ad­min­is­tra­tive staffers to move there from in­side the ter­mi­nal on the

in­ac­ces­si­ble, se­cure side of the build­ing (on a mez­za­nine level above the pas­sen­ger gates). Dozens more city avi­a­tion staff mem­bers would move to the new of­fices from an ex­ist­ing build­ing on Spirit of Texas Drive. And Harbin­son said the new build­ing would have room to ac­com­mo­date some ten­ants in the ter­mi­nal, in­clud­ing air­line staff and of­fi­cials with the fed­eral Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Mov­ing out the city and fed­eral work­ers, he said, would free up rentable space on the ter­mi­nal mez­za­nine for, among other pos­si­bil­i­ties, a “com­mon-use lounge” where pas­sen­gers — for a daily fee — could get away to a quiet space while wait­ing for their planes.

As for the ter­mi­nal ex­pan- sion, work be­gan last year to

in­crease the apron space east of the ter­mi­nal, which will al­low more overnight park­ing of jet lin­ers and ac­com­mo­date the larger Boe­ing 787 planes com­ing into more com­mon use. Crews are also ex­tend­ing the con­course’s east end.

With in­ter­na­tional air traf­fic on the rise at Aus

tin-Bergstrom, in­clud­ing some planes with 300 pas­sen­gers or more, Harbin­son said the air­lines wanted at least two of the nine new gates to ac­com­mo­date two jet­ways for a sin­gle air­plane. That al­lows faster board­ing and dis­em­bark­ing, he said. With the $28 mil­lion in added money for the project, he said, six of the nine added gates would now be out­fit­ted for both in­ter­na­tional travel (with se­cure pas­sage to and from cus­toms) and, with ac­cess ad­just­ments to the rest of the con­course, for do­mes­tic flights. That east end of the termi

nal will also in­clude, Harbin- son said, a new mem­bers-only club for a “legacy car­rier” at the air­port at a con­struc­tion cost of $5 mil­lion. Asked which air­line, Harbin­son said that, with the con­tract still

un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion, the city at this point won’t dis­close the com­pany’s name.

That $5 mil­lion, and more, would be re­cov­ered by the air­port in ad­di­tional fees paid by the air­line on a per- square-foot ba­sis, he said.

The air­port, with some of the ad­di­tional fund­ing for the ter­mi­nal project, would also re­place five of the seven bag­gage carousels on the lower floor. The orig­i­nal carousels have been in place since the air­port opened in 1999.

“None of the man­u­fac­tur­ers want to bid on ren­o­vat­ing those,” Harbin­son said. “So we’re go­ing to re­place them.”

TAMIR KALIFA/ AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

In the midst of on­go­ing con­struc­tion at Austin-Bergstrom In­ter­na­tional Air­port, the Austin City Coun­cil will be asked to au­tho­rize even more projects at the ex­pand­ing fa­cil­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.