Syracuse, N.Y. –The Syracuse Regional Airport Authority is planning to build 2,000 more parking spaces at Syracuse Hancock International Airport, a 44% increase designed to end frequent congestion during peak travel periods.
The airport has a little more than 4,500 surface and garage parking spaces, which often fill up during holidays and other peak travel periods, including winter school vacation weeks when many families head south. It will have at least 6,500 parking spaces when the expansion is completed in a few years.
Work has already begun on the first phase of the plan – construction of three new surface parking lots west and south of the airport’s existing lots. The new lots, which are costing nearly $3 million to build, will expand the airport’s parking capacity by nearly 900 spaces. They are expected to be ready by Christmas.
The lots include a new “cell phone lot” where people can park for free while waiting to pick up arriving passengers.
The second phase of the plan includes demolishing the airport’s aging four-story parking garage and replacing it with two five-level garages. Preliminary plans include a roadway between the two new garages to improve traffic flow.
Construction of the new garages is likely four years away. A final design, cost estimate and a firm construction timetable are not yet ready, said Jason Mehl, the airport’s chief commercial officer.
“There are a lot of details that we still have to work out,” he said.
Landrum & Brown, an aviation consulting firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has been hired to design the new garage.
The new parking structures will contain 3,700 to 4,000 spaces. The existing, 40-year-old garage has 2,650 spaces.
Travelers who park on the top level of the current garage have frequently complained that their vehicles are covered with snow when they return from their winter trips. Mehl said the new garages may include a canopy of solar panels on the top levels to generate power for the garages and provide protection from the weather.
A new, two-level rental car parking facility is also planned to the north of the new garages. Mehl said it may include some public parking. Construction is two or three years away, he said.
Rental car agencies currently lease nearly 500 prime spaces on the ground floor of the airport’s garage. Airport officials have long wanted to relocate the agencies to open those spaces up to the public.
Other changes in the works include building a full canopy over the drop-off area in front of the passenger terminal. Currently, a small canopy immediately in front of the terminal provides limited protection from the weather.
The area between the terminal and the parking garage used to have a full canopy, providing protection on both sides of the drop-off area. The old canopy was removed when the terminal underwent a $65 million renovation that was completed in 2018. It was replaced with the smaller canopy, which greatly brightened the area in front of the terminal.
Mehl said many travelers have told the authority they want more protection from the snow and rain in the drop-off area.
“We’ve gotten a lot of passenger feedback,” he said.
The new canopy will be designed to allow plenty of sunlight into the drop-off area, he said.
“It’s not going to be a big, dark canopy,” said Mehl.
The authority will look at a number of funding mechanisms for the project, including issuing bonds and seeking government grants, he said.
The airport authority has no immediate plans to increase parking fees, but Mehl said an increase in the future can’t be ruled out. Parking currently costs $15 a day in the garage and $13 a day in the open lots.
Parking revenues are the airport’s biggest non-airline source of revenue and represent a third of all the airport’s revenue.