Palm Beach Airport Parking Fees Expected to Increase to Help Fund Garage

Building a new airport parking garage will cost about $13 million more than expected, and passengers and visitors will pay for some of those costs if Palm Beach County commissioners approve parking rate increases Tuesday.

Those parking at Palm Beach International Airport also could get less bang for the buck, as the parking bill would increase every 20 minutes. Now it jumps every half-hour.

If commissioners approve the rate hikes, the extra $4.5 million in annual revenue will help pay for a $68 million, 3,200-space parking garage slated to go up east of the long-term parking lot.

The garage's construction price increased when the latest bids came in this month, said Bruce Pelly, director of county airports. The most recent estimate was $55 million. He attributed the spike to increases in the cost of construction materials.

The new seven-level garage, meant for long-term parking, will more than double the 2,686 parking spaces in the current long-term lot. Daily prices on that lot are proposed to increase to $12 from the $10 rate.

Other proposed changes include raising daily short-term parking lot rates from $12 to $18 and the daily rate at the park-and-ride lot from $5 to $6. The changes could become effective May 1.

"These rates aren't out of line with other airports," Pelly said. "We think the rates are reasonable."

Airport revenue bonds will be issued to pay for most of the garage's construction.

With the number of passengers at PBIA increasing, parking space is dwindling.

The long-term lot is closed several times a month because there is no room to park, Pelly said.

"It's full. You can't get in. You can't find a spot."

According to the latest available airport statistics, 647,289 passengers traveled through Palm Beach International in January, an increase of nearly 11,000 passengers from January 2005.

Just more than 7 million passengers flew through PBIA in 2005 - almost 477,000 more passengers than in 2004, according to the airport.

More than half of the airport's 7,777 parking spaces are in the park-and-ride lot.

County commissioners in August increased the daily maximum premium lot rate from $24 to $30, and the minimum premium lot rate from $1 to $2.

hector_florin@pbpost.com

Florida fees varyA comparison of daily parking rates at various Florida airports:AirportShortLongParkTermTerm& RidePBIA (proposed)$18$12$6PBIA (current)$12$10$5Fort Lauderdale$36$12$6Miami$25$12n/aTampa$18$14$7Orland$15$15$7Sources: Palm Beach County, airport Web sitesSources: Palm Beach County, airport Web sites

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