Airport has Relief in Sight for Drivers

Jun. 30--NEWPORT NEWS -- Local travelers frustrated with circling the parking lot at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, searching in vain for a space, will get some relief in just a few days.

The airport plans to open its new parking garage on Monday.

Costing about $10 million, the garage has 727 spaces, with about 480 for the public and the rest for car rental operations. Airport officials have been planning for the parking deck for at least two years.

The new garage is just one example of how the airport is expanding to keep up with demand. Passenger traffic dropped 0.6 percent last year to 1,052,813 passengers, but that was after double-digit percentage growth in passenger traffic for four straight years.

Through May of this year, the airport has served 392,187 passengers, an increase of about 1 percent compared to the same period last year. Other recent developments at the airport include:

A new air traffic control tower is now up and running.

Airport officials said three months ago that the $10 million tower would go into use this past Sunday, and that's what happened. The new structure is about 140 feet tall and replaces a shorter tower that was built in the 1950s.

An expansion of the airport's fuel farm is slated to be completed by the end of July.

This $960,000 project is increasing the airport's capacity for Jet-A fuel from 60,000 gallons to 178,400 gallons, according to airport spokeswoman Jessica Wharton. She said in a statement, "The greater supply we have on hand for refueling without waiting for a delivery is a win-win for everyone."

The airport has taken a step toward finding uses for its AirCommerce Park, a $27 million site that features a largely unused paved pad that stretches over about 25 acres, plus about 30 more acres of land for future buildings.

The airport's governing board has paid $25,000 for and received a study on design guidelines for the business park. Consultants from Kimley-Horn and Associates produced the report.

Wharton said the design guidelines, also known as minimum standards, are the only thing that Kimley-Horn has been hired to produce for the airport so far. In November, Kimley-Horn proposed a range of options costing more than $300,000 total for marketing and studying the business park.

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