Airport Parking & Car Rental Expansion is Enormous

February 24, 2012, 2:50 PM HST · Updated March 5, 2:41 PM
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By Susan Halas

car rental sign

The base yard where these car rental companies are located at the Kahului airport will to be moved to a new lower level facility below an expanded parking lot. Susan Halas photo.

Maui Now has learned that the expansion of parking at the Kahului Airport to an estimated 2,000 stalls is envisioned as the upper level of a planned multilevel project.

The plan also includes an entirely new rental car base yard on a lower level. It also may possibly include a third level for roadway access (Editor’s note: Daniel Meisenzahl with the Department of Transportation wrote to us on 3/5/2012 in regards to this story, indicating that there are no plans to include a third level).

The whole package, which also includes portions of the projected airport bypass road, is presently estimated to cost $230 million and has been fast-tracked by the state Department of Transportation’s Airport Division.

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The parking expansion and relocation of the rental car facility (dubbed ConRAC) are now anticipated to be built prior to construction of any improvements to the airport runways.

The runway improvements, depending on which of several options is selected, could cost an additional $60 million to $130 million.

Commuter Runway to be Expanded “No Matter What”

State DOT spokesperson Dan Meisenzahl said that after recent public meetings on Maui, the decision has been made to lengthen runway 523 “no matter what.” Runway 523 is the runway closer to the ocean and the one that presently handles smaller planes and commuter traffic.

kahului-runway-repair-roadway-airport

This picture of the airport shows where the proposed parking lot and road will go. It does not show the ConRAC car rental facility which is expected to go beneath the expanded parking. Image courtesy DOT.

The other runway, runway 220, is the main airport runway. It handles about 95% of the airport’s traffic. Decisions about  improvements for this runway have not yet been made.

Rental Car Base Yard has to Move

The lengthening of the secondary runway 523 will require the relocation of the existing rental car base yard.

He said that the department’s present thinking is “rather than spend $10 million and relocate the car rentals to a temporary location, it would be better to do it all at one time and do it right.”

This means the ConRAC construction schedule has been moved up “about four or five years.” Meisenzahl added, “That decision made Maui lawmakers happy because they want to move ahead.”

It’s All in One Package

The parking expansion, new consolidated car rental facility and road improvements are packaged together as Project No. AM1032-13 – Roadway Improvements and ConRAC Facility. “We are in the process of selecting the design consultant, qualifications are due this upcoming Thursday,” Meisenzahl said.

airport parking 3

A view of the present parking at the Kahului Airport. Susan Halas photo.

At this time he was unable to provide breakouts of just how much each of the components would contribute to the total cost.

“The highway has just gotten — or will be shortly receiving — Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) approval of their Environmental Assessment. Construction of the Airport Access Road / ConRAC project is slated to begin by August 2013. The design cost of the ConRAC is anticipated to be approximately $6 million. Total construction for everything in the package: road, parking expansion, relocation of the rental car facility is estimated at approximately $230 million.

Part of the new access road will be administered by the state Highways Division. But the final quarter mile will be administered by the DOT’s Airport Division. That portion of the road will have three distinct parts: “one to drop off, one to return, then a third to leave. The discussion is just beginning on exactly how it’s going to work,” he said.

No Pictures Available Yet

The acceleration of the big ticket ConRAC facility to the airport improvements mix is so recent that the department has, as yet, no visuals or renderings of what the proposed facility will look like, nor was the spokesman able to say specifically where it would go.

Financing Still a Question

Another big question is how it will be financed.

Local car rental managers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, pointed out that the state had earlier imposed a 7% surcharge. That money, they said, was supposed to be earmarked to pay for improvements. However, due to the state’s dire financial situation, that fund was raided to help cover budget shortfalls.

Meisenzahl confirmed that the funds initially earmarked for this project are no longer available. He added that though some parts of the large plan are in place, the financial side of it is not yet clear. Under normal circumstances cost of improvements are split with 25% paid for by the state and 75% paid for by federal funds.

Whether either state or federal funds will be available has not yet been determined.

How Much Will it Add to Travel Costs?

No-one who spoke to Maui Now could say just how much these big ticket improvements would add to the cost of Maui travelers.

Presently car rental costs on Maui can range for $100 a week to a $1,000 a week depending on the season and the demand. The cost of renting cars here is already among the highest in the nation. Sources at the various rental firms pointed out that layering in many taxes, surcharges and user fees has driven the prices up, and these cost are passed along to the customer.

monthly rates going up

Monthly airport parking rates rise sharply on March 1. Susan Halas photo.

As for parking, currently it costs $10 a day to park at the airport. Monthly fees are scheduled to go up from $90 to $160 on March 1st. No estimates on what the fees will be when expanded parking facility is built are yet available.

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