Under budget and ahead of schedule, the new Long Beach Airport parking structure is complete this week, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony taking place Thursday (today).
Part of a nearly $140 million modernization plan currently underway at the airport, the $56.6 million parking garage (originally budgeted to cost $58.6 million) promotes sustainability by consolidating parking and eliminating the need for passenger shuttles.
On July 15, we are going to start using the parking structure and phase out parking and shuttle service off-site, said Long Beach Airport Director Mario Rodriguez. We finished $2 million under budget and four months ahead of schedule because of good management, very good luck, good contractors and a good plan.
The addition of the parking lot means airport customers will be able to walk from the parking garage to the terminal, making travel more convenient, Rodriguez said.
There are nearly 2,000 parking spaces in the garage plus more than 200 spaces in an adjacent ground lot.
This is one of the few airports where you can get from your car and into an airplane in about 20 or 30 minutes, he said.
Adding to the sustainability of the project, Rodriguez said eventually the garage would be powered in part by solar panels that are part of the modernization plan. Also, the new garage saves the airport money by eliminating off-site parking lot rental costs however, Rodriguez said that busy travel times, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, might necessitate the need for temporary off-site parking.
Parking rates in the structure are $2 per hour or $17 per day, which is an increase from the $11 per day off-site parking. Rodriguez said the airports parking rates, even with the increase, are lower than other nearby airport parking garages in Southern California.
Modernizing Long Beach Airport had been a mere dream for nearly 10 years before the new parking structure broke in December 2009. Rodriguez said original plans for retrofitting the facilities were doomed to failure because they werent cost feasible and destroyed the character of the airport.
Rodriguez said the new, cost-feasible modernization plan maintains the airports strengths while completing needed improvements. He added that the new boutique atmosphere of the airport wouldnt come with a higher price tag for airline tickets.
Still under construction is the airports new, $45 million concourse, which will accommodate the airports existing three million passengers and include an atrium, garden walkway, screening area, boarding lounge and improved seating, concessions and restrooms.
The concourse is set for completion in 2013 and construction is on schedule.
Also a part of the modernization, which includes solar and green technologies, is a redesign of the air carrier ramp and modernization of the circa-1941 terminal.
Once complete, Rodriguez said the classic charm of the airport would remain the same.
We want people to experience flight that is reminiscent of the way it used to be, and the way it should be it should be a pleasant experience, he said. Long Beach deserves an entrance point that is reflective of this entire city. We want to show travelers a nice first and last image of the city.