Parking at the Tri-Cities Airport so you can have a tearful goodbye or joyful hello with travelers is about to require a little more walking.
Airport officials will close the terminal’s short-term parking area for a month beginning April 9. The closure is needed to repave that portion of the parking lot as part of the airport’s expansion project.
There is plenty of space for short-term parking in the long-term parking lot, officials said, and the first 25 minutes of parking in that lot will be free, as it usually is in short-term parking.
But the arrangement does put a little more distance between the vehicles and the terminal and administrators are asking for the patience of travelers and other visitors.
“We regret the inconvenience this project presents to our traveling public,” a news release said. “This project is a necessary investment in order to make the airport more convenient for the public.”
The $57 million expansion of the airport began in 2014 and will ultimately provide more gates and security screening areas as well as an improved baggage claim and other amenities. However, the improvements have come with headaches for travelers, such as circuitous routes around the terminal during construction, baggage claim housed in a tent and congestion at the curbside dropoff area.
Buck Taft, the airport’s deputy director, said repaving the short-term parking lot is actually only expected to take two weeks, but officials plan to close it for longer so owners of all the vehicles parked there have time to remove them. The lot will be fenced off and signs put up to direct drivers.
All airport visitors will have access to the long-term parking lot, as well as the credit card lot to the east across the airport’s access road.
Pedestrian access to the terminal will continue to be via the center concrete sidewalk that goes through the short-term parking lot. Curbside parking will only be allowed for dropping off or picking up travelers.
Airport officials have said that the expansion project is more than halfway complete and all work should be done in 2017.