Saturday, December 11, 2010

Long Beach Airport work will finish early

LONG BEACH — Work is progressing faster than expected on Long Beach Airport's new $58 million parking garage, which is now expected to open by September 2011, three months earlier than anticipated.

The early finish date will save the city about $85,000 per month for round-the-clock shuttles carrying passengers to a leased remote parking lot, which costs the airport about $1.8 million annually.

Meanwhile, the new structure is expected to generate $350,000 for the airport per month, said Long Beach Airport Director Mario Rodriguez.

"So we're going to be saving a lot of money on those shuttles and the remote parking lease, which is leased from Boeing, and it's going to be a much-improved parking situation for passengers, who will be able to park just a few feet from the main terminal," Rodriguez said.

The project's contractor, ARB Inc. of Lake Forest, began work in December 2009 on roadway and infrastructure improvements, then began building the five-level, 1,989-space parking structure in April.

Solar panels are being integrated into the garage's superstructure.

Upon completion, engineers expect the new roadway to Lakewood Boulevard, coupled with more lanes in and out of the parking areas, to significantly ease traffic flow and passenger congestion around the airport.

The garage is also expected to accommodate the airport's growing passenger volumes, which have surpassed 3 million annually, more than double the figure just five years ago.

Work on the garage is supporting 450 jobs and is being financed wholly through airport bonds, passenger and parking fees and federal stimulus grants.

The airport has pledged to pay the bond off within 30 years and without pulling money from the city's ailing general fund, which supports public safety, libraries, street repairs and other critical needs.

The garage update comes as airport officials prepare to begin work on a new passenger concourse, runways, aircraft ramps and terminal modernization.

Those projects, with a combined cost of roughly $75 million, include simple upgrades like new paint, lights and restrooms, along with more complex environmental measures.

Solar panels, for example, will eventually provide between 15 and 20 percent of the airport's total power usage, while engineers will electrify airplane parking slots to allow jets to "plug in" after landing, eliminating the need for diesel auxiliary motors to handle such tasks as baggage handling and air conditioning.

By electrifying the slots, the level of toxic jet exhaust wafting into nearby neighborhoods and schools will be slashed.

(Kristopher Hansen - Press Telegram)

1 comment:

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