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Airports expand rental car facilities to ease vehicular traffic at their terminals


Airports expand rental car facilities to ease vehicular traffic at their terminals

Airline ticketing services are included at some of these sites.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | August 31, 2015

Logan Airport Rental Car Center, Boston. Photo: Arnold Reinhold via Wikimedia Commons

AEC teams have found fertile ground in building or expanding consolidated rental car facilities, which are the No. 1 profit centers for most airports, according to Jayne O’Donnell, Turner Construction’s Vice President and General Manager.

Turner recently completed a five-story, 2.1-million-sf rental center located at the Port of Seattle that is designed to accommodate rental car demand for 45 million passengers per year. That’s 15 million more than Seattle-Tacoma International currently serves. The center has 88 acres for parking, as well as four Quick-Turn-Around areas for washing, cleaning, refueling, and maintenance.

Turner is currently working on a seven-story, $163 million rental-car facility in San Antonio, which would house up to 13 car rental companies and provide short-term public parking, replacing the airport’s 30-year-old hourly parking garage. Turner has also been awarded the contract for a rental-car project at the airport in Portland, Ore., which O’Donnell says is reviewing the possibility of including flow-through passenger ticketing at that site.

Austin Commercial is equally active on this front. Kelly Locke, LEED AP, Preconstruction Director for Austin’s National Aviation division, says that since 2000 his firm has been involved in eight rental car facility projects. It just got started on a 2.6-milllion-sf, $450 million consolidated rental car facility near the entrance to Tampa International Airport. This project is part of a $1 billion upgrade and modernization program the Florida airport is engaged in.

The goal of many of these projects, from the airports’ perspective, is to limit the number of vehicles that come to their terminals.

Austin Commercial broke ground May 21 on a $782 million rental car facility for Chicago’s O’Hare International. This facility is designed to bring every rental car under one roof and reduce traffic congestion on airport terminal roadways. The five-story center will include 4,200 spaces for rental cars and another 2,600 for public parking. When the facility is completed, in 2018, rental car companies won’t be allowed to run shuttle buses to the terminals. The U.S. Department of Transportation is providing a $288 million low-interest loan to the city for this project.

When interviewed in July, Locke said his firm was about to turn over car rental facilities to airports in Austin and San Diego. He added that airports in Orlando and Houston were getting ready to build new car rental areas. But the mother of them all could be LAX, which as part of a $4 billion modernization program will build a six-million-sf, $1 billion facility that consolidates into one location car rentals that are currently scattered around the Los Angeles airport.

This facility, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2017, is part of a larger plan that includes an automated train that takes passengers to and from an off-site check-in facility.


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