New Garage Should Ease Fort Lauderdale Airport Parking Crunch

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is about to open 4,400 new parking spaces, which should help ease the shortages that sometimes plague the airport during its busiest weekends.

The Cypress garage will open Tuesday, offering four levels of parking atop the new five-story rental car center that opened in January.

Parking will cost $1 a half hour with a maximum of $12 for a whole day.

The airport already has about 7,700 garage spaces and 3,600 ''remote spots'' -- spaces farther out where passengers catch a shuttle to the terminal, airport spokesman Steve Belleme said.

The garage is connected to Terminal 1.

A moving sidewalk on the second floor will take travelers from the garage to the terminal, Belleme said.

Cypress is recommended for people traveling on America West, Frontier, JetBlue, Sky Service, Southwest, Sun Country, Trans Meridian and West Jet.

The entire project, garage and rental car center, cost $247 million.

Drivers will enter the new garage from the adjacent Hibiscus garage.

If Hibiscus is full, drivers will cross a bridge from the top level of the Hibiscus garage into Cypress.

Later, a separate ramp will open just for the Cypress garage.

Tolls will be collected at booths near the garage exit, Belleme said.

The booths will be replaced in early 2006 with kiosks across from the elevators. Before going back to their cars, drivers will put their ticket in a kiosk and pay, then leave without having to navigate a toll booth.

Eventually, SunPass compatibility will be added. Drivers with transponders will drive in, and SunPass will track how long they are there. It will mark when they exit and charge their accounts accordingly.

Electronic signs by the garage's elevators tell travelers where each airline is located and what level has the shuttle that will get them there, with color logos for each airline.

Design of the garage and rental car facility began in 2000. Construction started in 2002.

The concrete is clean. The spaces are drawn. The last thing left to do before opening the garage is putting up the signs changing the Hibiscus garage to the Cypress Garage/Hibiscus Garage, Belleme said.

They go up Monday night.