Grand Rapids Airport Plans $120M Renovation

The project -- the biggest ever at the airport -- will include a covered parking ramp that will add 4,000 parking spaces.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The animated video takes viewers for a walk through a big-city airport -- a four-story covered parking ramp, a curved steel-and-glass roof over the main driveway, glass walkways.

What it doesn't show, however, are the hassles passengers will face for two years beginning this fall as workers build the $120 million project at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

"It will be ugly," Kent County Aeronautics Director Jim Koslosky said of construction headaches. "But when it's done, it will be a first-class facility."

The Kent County Board of Commissioners this week is expected to give final approval to the project. Work is expected to begin in September or October and be completed in 2009.

The project -- the biggest ever at the airport -- will include a covered parking ramp that will add 4,000 parking spaces. When complete, the airport will have parking for 10,000 vehicles. The ramp will cover the existing long- and short-term lot northwest of the terminal.

The drive into the airport will be straightened; the 600-foot drive that runs the length of the terminal will be covered with a glass-and-steel canopy that mimics the wave-like roof of downtown's DeVos Place; and two skywalks will lead passengers from the ramp to the terminal.

Short-term parking and all rental-car facilities will take up the bottom level of the ramp. The plans also call for a station for The Rapid bus service.

Airport officials said the ramp is needed to meet growing needs and to make a good first impression on visitors.

The airport will contribute $20 million to the project and will pay for the rest through a bond, which the county board must approve. The airport plans to repay the bond through parking and rental car fees, Koslosky said.

That will mean an increase in parking fees, he said. He expects long-term rates, for example, to jump to between $10 and $15 a day. Now, visitors pay $8 a day.



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