CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland Hopkins International Airport early Tuesday debuted the long-delayed $3.5 million Ground Transportation Center, for rental-car, off-site parking and hotel shuttle drop-offs and pick-ups.
The project has been years in the making, as airport officials have struggled to ease congestion on the increasingly crowded roadways in front of the terminal.
Features of the new facility include wooden benches, overhead lighting and heating, plus wide, covered walkways. The facility is immediately north of the terminal, just off the baggage claim area on the airport’s lower level.
Construction of the facility started in March 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic was bringing air travel to a halt in Cleveland and elsewhere. Work was expected to be completed last year, but unanticipated underground work delayed the project, as well as some COVID-related supply shortages, according to officials.
In addition, there remains some work to finish, including completion of a walkway to the Red parking lot and relocation of taxi cabs to the new location.
Airport Director Robert Kennedy said adjustments to the operation would be made based on feedback from travelers. “We’ve had a lot of good comments,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “We’ve had some negative ones too. And there are some people who want to be dropped off back on the roadway.”
The airport started rerouting some commercial traffic off the main terminal roadway back in 2015, during a facelift to the terminal façade. Instead of dropping customers at the terminal curb, shuttle buses for off-site parking lots and hotels were directed to a new spot near the airport garage, which necessitated a longer walk for travelers, plus trips up and down two escalators to get to the main ticketing and gate areas.
The changes, according to airport officials, were necessitated by an increasing number of local travelers using the airport, putting stress on the terminal roadways.
Travelers, however, were not happy about the longer walk, sometimes with luggage or kids in tow. In response to the criticism, airport officials in 2019 moved the drop-off and pick-up spot to the current Ground Transportation Center area, just north of the terminal.
Both locations, however, were considered temporary fixes, with flimsy structures providing little protection from the elements.
Those temporary structures have been replaced by more permanent and pleasant open-air canopies and waiting areas.
“It’s an easier, more intuitive location,” said Kennedy. “It should be more customer friendly.”
This new center isn’t exactly a long-term solution, either. Eventually, the Ground Transportation Center will be relocated again, as part of a much larger, $2 billion plan to rebuild the terminal at Cleveland Hopkins.
That may not happen for anther decade, however. In the meantime, here’s who will use the new facility:
* Travelers who use off-site parking lots, including Park ‘N Fly, Park Place and others.
* Travelers headed to one of several nearby hotels.
* Travelers headed to or from the airport rental car facility on Maplewood Avenue.
* Travelers using private car/limo services.
* Airport employees who park off-site.
In addition, after taxis move to the new facility, in approximately six to eight weeks, Uber and Lyft drivers will pick up passengers at the cabs’ former location, on the lower level at the south end of the terminal.