Four-story Garage Should Ease Airport Parking Crunch

$29 Million Project To Open Sept. 1991

October 24, 1990|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff writer

The crowded parking conditions at Baltimore-Washington International Airport should ease by next fall with the completion of a four-story, $29 million parking garage now under construction.

The garage, which will add 2,100 parking spaces to the airport and make it easier for people to get into and out of terminals, is scheduled to be completed in September 1991. Construction began last November.

It currently costs $7 a day to park in the daily lot, and $2 an hour to park in the hourly lot. West said parking in the garage will be more expensive.

"We will have to review that just before it opens," said Michael West, the MAA's associate administrator for planning and engineering. "But it will be at a premium."

Officials said parking at Baltimore-Washington International Airport is becoming a problem. "We have had to close the daily parking lot regularly," West said.

Each floor of the garage, being built by Contex Construction Company of Virginia and managed by the Ralph Parsons Co. of Washington, will hold 700 cars. Public parking will be allowed on the first, second and fourth levels. The third level will be reserved for rental car companies.

Also, each level will have a separate entrance and exit ramp with electronic signs telling drivers how full each level is. "Drivers shouldn't have to search more than one level for a space," West said.

The garage will contain seven elevators and stairwells, three enclosed ramps leading directly to the three terminals, an underground tunnel from the bottom level and provisions for a moving sidewalk that would be installed if the garage ever expands.

Current daily and hourly parking is located on the west side of the airport, and people have a five-minute outside walk to the terminal. With the garage, hourly parking will move inside, with the remaining space used for daily parking.

The area now being used for hourly and daily parking will be used for additional daily parking; an additional 300 spaces will be built behind the garage. Satellite parking located along Camp Meade Road will remain the same.

Overall, the new construction will add about 2,400 spaces to the airport, bringing the total from 1,620 spaces to just over 4,000.

Building separate ramps to and from each of the levels and allowing exclusive access to rental cars should avoid traffic congestion found at most airports, West said.

The garage can be expanded, both length and height-wise, to hold up to 6,000 cars. But that expansion is far away. "This garage should do for the next 10 to 20 years," West said.

In another traffic development at BWI, one of the airport exits had to be closed last week when officials found cracks in a bridge span. The closed exit connects the hourly and daily parking lots to Interstate 195 -- the new connector from the airport to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and I-95.

West said state inspectors are conducting tests and should know soon how serious the problem is. Meanwhile, cars exiting from those lots are being redirected to 195 through the terminal. West said it has caused some back-up, but additional state police officers have been stationed there to help keep cars moving.

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