A big bump in passengers the last three months means parking is tight at the Eastern Iowa Airport.
Airport officials said both of their short-term and long-term lots are at, or near, capacity.
"What a nightmare, holy cow! I was actually somewhat prepared because I'm on Facebook with The Eastern Iowa Airport, but I really didn't know it would be this bad," said Kathy Moeder, a traveler from Cedar Rapids.
To help out, the airport has opened up three overflow lots, some distance away. Passengers can park there, and then shuttles will bring them to and from the terminal. It’s a first since the long term parking lot was expanded in 2006.
“I think what you're seeing is a lot of pent-up demand. We've had a really long brutal-cold winter, and a lot of people wanting to take vacations,” said Tim Bradshaw, the airport’s director.
Bradshaw said the overflow lots are a temporary fix. He said a better solution could be a parking ramp, which is one of the airport’s long-term goals. However, putting in a ramp isn't an easy decision. Ramps can be expensive, not just for customers parking there, but for the airport to build.
"I've heard estimates of more than $15,000 a space to build a parking ramp. We're just still looking at crunching the numbers," Bradshaw said. "It's going to move up on the priority list if our [passenger] numbers continue to climb."Bradshaw said a ramp may be a better alternative to additional surface parking. He said the airport can't expand its current lot beyond 1,000 feet in certain directions, without offering things like a permanent shuttle service.