Friday, December 11, 2009

Airport breaks ground on new parking garage

LONG BEACH - Officials broke ground Thursday on a nearly 2,000-space parking garage at Long Beach Airport that is expected to ease congestion at a facility long plagued by a lack of on-site parking.

The $48 million structure, expected to be completed by early 2011, will add nearly 1,000 spots to an area just steps from the main terminal, said Maricela de Rivera, an airport spokeswoman.

The first phase will add 247 slots by summer, with the entire structure adding 989 spots where less than 1,000 now exist on two ground-level lots (known as lots B and C) off Donald Douglas Drive, the airport's primary entry route.

The five-level, 1,989-slot structure is being financed through a 30-year bond expected to cost about $4.2million annually. Money generated by parking fees will pay for the bonds.

In addition, Lot D, a site the airport rents north of the property, will be closed once the new garage is complete.

Officials have also made plans to increase the garage's size to accommodate another 3,000 or so parking spots, but only after 2016 and only if necessary, de Rivera said.

Right now, the airport handles a maximum of 41 passenger flights and 25 commuter flights daily - averaging about 3.5 million passengers annually.

Currently, airport parking is a mishmash of small, uncovered lots, a mid-sized garage and an off-site lot requiring shuttle service to the main terminal.

The new garage is part of a makeover of the 1930s-era airport, given a green light earlier this year following the city's legal victory in a federal courtroom.

A group known as the Long Beach Parent-Teacher Association, which included the Long Beach Unified School District, had sued the city, arguing an environmental impact report examining the effects of terminal and parking garage expansion didn't properly account for potential noise impacts on area schools.

In May, California's Fourth District Court of Appeals rejected the argument, paving the way for Thursday's ground-breaking.

(Press Telegram)

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