Boise Airport’s $200 million upgrade plan will improve customer experience
By: Rebecca Hupp of the Idaho Business Review
It’s no surprise the Treasure Valley’s population has been growing. In 2018 Forbes Magazine cited the Boise Metro Area as one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. With an increase of residents and a strong local economy, the Boise Airport has been experiencing similar growth in terms of passenger traffic. Over the past five years, the Boise Airport has seen its passenger traffic grow 50%, with forecasts predicting over 4 million passengers will fly through the Boise Airport in 2019 – a record number.
In order to meet the demand of the traveling public, the Boise Airport will begin a multi-year capital improvement plan, BOI Upgrade, to increase capacity and improve the passenger experience. Projects include multiple parking structures, a new rental car facility and a new concourse.
The majority of these projects cannot begin construction at the same time, as many of them have to occur in sequential order. For example, in order to build Concourse A, the current rental car facility must be relocated. In order to construct the new rental car facility within walking distance of the terminal, the airport must build a new hangar to relocate the current tenant. The projects will occur in consecutive order, with a construction timeline extending into 2024.
The Boise Airport is an enterprise fund and department of the City of Boise. As an enterprise fund, the airport is financially self-sustaining, meaning no local taxpayer dollars will be used to finance any of these projects. Funding will come from a portion of the revenue collected from rental car agencies and airlines, along with capital funds generated by the airport. Bonds will be repaid by revenue. The total cost estimate for all projects is approximately $200 million.
One area with the highest demand for growth is parking. The airport last expanded the close-in parking facility in 2013, increasing garage capacity by 755 stalls. That expansion was forecasted to handle demand for 10 years. However, with the airport’s unprecedented growth, it became clear that additional parking was needed. Construction is scheduled to begin on two garage projects in 2020: a public parking garage and employee parking garage.
The new public parking garage will be within walking distance of the airport, located east of the current parking garage. The new facility will be four levels with an approximate capacity of 800 stalls. Public parking capacity will also get a boost once the new employee garage is complete, as close-in surface parking that is currently used by airport tenants will be made available for public use.
The employee garage will provide parking for staff members who work for rental car agencies, airlines, Transportation Security Administration, and food and gift outlets. The facility will be five levels with an approximate capacity of 715 stalls. The garage will be located along Wright St., just north of the airport within walking distance of the terminal. The second phase of the project will include a covered walkway to allow a more comfortable walk in inclement weather.
The new rental car facility will include a garage and lobby space, with construction expected to begin in late 2020. The garage will be six levels with approximately 1000 parking stalls. The facility will include restrooms, elevators and a climate-controlled walkway that will connect the west end of baggage claim to the new rental car lobby space. Moving the rental car lobby from the east end of the airport to the west end will create a seamless experience for passengers. Passengers will be able to retrieve their checked luggage from the baggage area, then walk directly to the rental car facility to check in and rent a vehicle.
The final construction project will be a brand-new concourse, Concourse A, that will extend to the west of the airport terminal. The new concourse will initially have three gates; however, it is designed with the ability to expand up to 12 gates as demand grows in the future. The additional gates will be able to handle three mainline aircraft. The concourse will also include restrooms, restaurants and retail stores. Construction is expected to be complete in late 2024.
Once Concourse A is complete, Concourse B will be remodeled to increase the size of the passenger waiting areas and update customer amenities such as restrooms, seating and charging areas. Concourse B was initially constructed in 1984 and expanded in 1995.
Along with these main projects, several passenger experience enhancements are also in the works. The airport has already added an additional lane in the TSA checkpoint, expanding from five to six lanes. A service animal relief area will be added inside the terminal, past the security checkpoint. The airport will also look at ways to reduce congestion within the airport drive loop in areas such as the departure and arrival curbs and ground transportation locations.
As construction moves forward, the Boise Airport will focus on the passenger experience, aiming to reduce the impact on travelers as much as possible. The airport is focused on meeting the demands of the traveling public and ensuring their trip is as safe and enjoyable as possible.