A new $115 million state-of-the-art short-term parking garage at Nashville International Airport will debut Thursday with a new ride-hailing pickup area on the ground level.
The six-level, 2,200-space parking and transportation center is next door to the old short-term lot, which will close for good on Thursday. Vehicles still parked there have a few weeks to exit before it’s demolished.
Travelers looking for an Uber or Lyft ride will have a slightly longer walk from the terminal.
But the new ride-hailing pickup area will be more efficient and will clear up congestion in front of the terminal for those dropping off passengers, officials said during a ribbon-cutting event for the garage on Wednesday morning.
“We have 5,064 pickups and drop-offs every day. That’s 211 trips an hour through here,” said Doug Kreulen, BNA’s president and CEO. “We’ll keep working to remove congestion with a bigger Terminal Drive. That will come in the next few years.”
The new garage features modern technologies, such as a digital guidance system that directs motorists to open spaces, five electric vehicle charging stations, a tire inflation machine on the second level, flight information displays and motorcycle parking spots.
Public art installations and colorful signage add some personality to the otherwise gray block structure.
A record 14.9 million passengers passed through the airport last year. That number is expected to grow to 18 million in 2023 and 23 million by 2037.
The garage investment is part of Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority’s larger overhaul of the airport, called BNA Vision, to accommodate for this rapid growth.
Airport officials developed the BNA Vision plan as passenger growth increased at nearly double the anticipated annual rate of 3 percent.
It fast-tracks expansion of ticketing counters, an international arrivals facility and security gates while modernizing facilities and increasing amenities.
“Nashville is the economic engine in the region and, in fact, in our state,” Mayor David Briley said. “BNA is the front door to Nashville and to our region and, in my humble opinion, to our state. Without this facility we would not be seeing the incredible economic activity we have in our community right now.”
The 960,000 square-foot garage was built on an old surface parking lot.
The former short-term parking garage next door will be replaced with a new garage topped with offices. The airport’s administrative staff will move out of the terminal to allow for more passenger services there.
A third new parking garage is planned by 2023. It will be attached to a new hotel.
When finished, the three garages facing the airport will together accommodate 7,500 vehicles.
A new concourse, Concourse D, is also under construction to add more gates by 2020.
Meanwhile, airport officials continue to add new destinations. Sun Country recently added direct flights to Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Florida; New Orleans; and Minneapolis/St.Paul.
Southwest plans to bring daily service to San Jose and Burbank, California, and weekly Sunday service to Omaha, Nebraska, in June. Allegiant has new service to Syracuse, New York, and Tampa/St. Pete, Florida, as well.
British Airways recently added new and direct flights to London.
“The parking and transportation center is a response to the exponential growth that we are experiencing at BNA,” BNA Board Chair A. Dexter Samuels said. “Month after month, we continue to break passenger traffic records.”
Reach Sandy Mazza at email@example.com or 615-726-5962 and on Twitter @SandyMazza.
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