Construction projects can be challenging for parking operations in all segments of the industry. The rerouting of existing and/or construction of new roadways, building of new terminal space, construction of rental car facilities, and of course, building new parking facilities can all have an effect on airport parking operations.
Salt Lake City International Airport’s Terminal Redevelopment Program will contain all of the above projects, plus a few more. Commencing in June 2014, SLC will begin a $1.8 billion project that will last more than five years. The challenges our parking operations will face during that time are not unique to SLC; many airports (universities, municipalities, and medical center campuses) will encounter them throughout various phases of construction. They include:
- Planning: Airport master plans outline short, medium, and long-term development plans to meet future aviation demand. Looking into the crystal ball by way of aviation demand forecasts is helpful, but events can change that demand, (think September 11, 2001, and the recession of 2008-2009). How many garage levels and spaces are optimal for now and into the future?
- Facility design: The need to rightsize the design for present and future needs is critical. The old “Field of Dreams” adage of “If you build it, they will come,” may not hold true.
- Marketing: Replacing obsolete facilities will necessitate educating the traveling public on the benefits of redevelopment. Community outreach and partnerships will help get the word out. An open-house format is effective in engaging the public and soliciting their opinions.
- Construction: How will customers react to reconfiguration of traffic routing and shuttle routes?
- Maintaining customer service levels: How can you maintain the high service standards you have in place while construction is ongoing?
- Market share: How can you maintain market share and prevent leakage to off-airport competition?
The above are only a few of the challenges faced during a lengthy construction project. Each of these may ebb and flow as work continues. It is imperative that parking professionals stay involved in as many aspects of the construction process as we can. Ultimately, our operations will be affected; if we are not prepared, the consequences can be severe.