Cedar Rapids Airport Commission may study more parking options

Officials also exploring ways to improve traffic circulation at the airport

George Ford
Published: March 20 2014 | 4:21 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:56 am in

After experiencing three months of record passenger traffic and heavy spring break travel, the Cedar Rapids Airport Commission is expected to consider what options are available for additional parking during peak periods.

The airport's 3,000 surface parking spaces were filled earlier this week, prompting the use of the Kirkwood softball complex parking lot across Wright Brothers Boulevard and the use of a shuttle for the first time in years.

Airport Director Tim Bradshaw said he will ask the commission's operations committee to consider updating the most recent parking study.

"Once we have that information in hand, we can consider what we want to do," Bradshaw said.

The airport has constructed the maximum amount of surface parking available within a 1,000-foot radius of the front of the passenger terminal. Bradshaw said additional sites have been considered, including about 50 spaces in the former National Guard Armory complex on 18th Street SW.

While the Cedar Rapids Airport Commission has considered constructing a parking ramp over the last two decades, the cost of the project about three times per parking space than the price of surface parking space and the fees that it would need to charge have been obstacles.

Bradshaw noted there has also been opposition from prior commission members to constructing a ramp in front of the terminal, blocking the view from Wright Brothers Boulevard. The airport's long range plan, recently approved by the commission, includes recommendations for ramps to provide short-term parking in front of the terminal.

Bradshaw said one possible way to make a parking ramp financially feasible would involve allowing rental car companies to park vehicles on the first level and use the upper floors for public parking.

The airport commission on Monday will consider engineering task orders to repave part of the short-term parking lot late in this summer and study construction of a "circular" road to allow travelers dropping off passengers to return to short- or long-term parking without having to leave airport property.

"This airport does not have a ring road like other airports," Bradshaw said. "You have to go out 18th Street to Wright Brothers Boulevard and then re-enter the airport to get to the parking lots. We're looking at ways we can improve the circulation into the airport.

"The entrances to our short- and long-term parking are close to each other and it causes some confusion. One of the options that's been talked about is moving the entrance to long-term parking up to where the old Wright Brothers Boulevard was next to the statues."

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