The new entrance to des Moines airport at the terminal, the car park opens on Thursday
Drivers to Des Moines International Airport will use a new entrance to the terminal and parking lot – the first public project associated with a new $ 500 million terminal slated for construction later in the decade.
The new Cowles Drive will open at 11 a.m. Thursday. Drivers will now enter the airport at the next red light south of the old entrance on Fleur Drive, next to where the exit is and across from BP and Joey’s Auto Shop.
The new terminal is expected to accommodate a rapid increase in passenger traffic which is expected to pick up after a slowdown linked to the pandemic. While the road is the first public project, the airport has spent millions to move other services around the airfield.
Cowles Drive will serve the new terminal, “but it also benefits our current and existing facilities and overall traffic flow,” said Kayla Kovarna, airport communications manager.
Kevin Foley, executive director of the airport, said the new road would solve at least two traffic problems at the airport: congestion for southbound drivers turning right on Fleur Drive and an entrance that was too short, forcing drivers make decisions quickly and often wrongly where to turn.
Having a longer route will help airport officials provide drivers with more effective signage of where to go for long-term parking and in a garage, returning rental cars and others. airport services.
“This broadcasts the decision points for people who are unfamiliar with the airport,” Foley said.
There are four other phases to completely complete Cowles Drive to accommodate the new terminal and the adjustments associated with rental car returns and garage parking. Construction of the next two phases is expected to begin in the spring.
The entire Cowles Drive project will cost $ 36 million.
Plans are still on track to begin construction on the new 18-door terminal in 2026 and open two years later. The timeline could be accelerated if the airport could close a budget deficit of $ 200 million, which could come from funding from the federal infrastructure investment and jobs law and the US bailout law, Foley said.
Passengers return to the airport regularly after a long slowdown in air travel linked to COVID-19, and he predicts the airport will soon feel “extremely crowded.” Traffic is back to 93% of the record numbers of 2019 – and much of it is vacationers going on leisure trips.
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Once business travel picks up, which typically accounts for half of all airport passengers, Des Moines could be poised to see more travelers than ever before.
The plan for a new terminal has been in the works since the airport’s board of directors approved it in 2016.
In addition to being too small, the existing terminal, built in 1948, has become expensive to maintain and was not designed to effectively handle the flow of passengers through modern security checks, officials said. airport.
Before the pandemic, Des Moines International Airport had record passenger traffic in 2017, 2018 and 2019, when 2.9 million passengers traveled in and out of the airport – a certain many officials did not expect until 2027.
The new terminal is to be built on the east side of the airport grounds near Fleur Drive.
New airport entrance
- Opens thursday
- The cost is $ 36 million
- Will give drivers more time to decide where to turn for parking, rental car return and other airport services
- Is the first public sign of the new airport terminal to come