Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s parking facility will undergo many changes within the next year.
The airport will begin replacing its parking access and revenue control system, which is expected to make it possible for RDU to start its long-awaited online parking reservation system. The system will let travelers book and pay for parking online at parkrdu.com, ensuring they have a place to park even at the busiest times of the year.
Jeff Slayton, RDU’s director of parking and ground transportation, said the online reservation system is expected to be fully implemented by Jan. 1, but certain parts of the garage may see the service even sooner as it’s phased in.
On Thursday, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport Authority, an eight-member board, kicked off the project by approving a $4.8 million contract with Sentry Control Systems to replace the parking access and revenue control system and a $150,000 contract with Lumin Advisors to oversee the project.
Online booking was expected to start in May 2016, but was delayed by software issues. The online reservation system is already complete but RDU’s current vendor was unable to integrate it into the existing system, Slayton said.
“We have spent a lot of time, energy and money to develop that system,” he said. “Our customers are eagerly waiting for it, and we needed a partner that can deliver that to us relatively quickly.”
The work will take place around the same time as maintenance and renovations to the parking facilities.
The airport authority previously approved $4.5 million in maintenance and repair work on most of its seven-level, 11,000-space “ParkRDU” Central garage, excluding the ground-level Premier zone. The work will start this spring.
The contractor will close off about 1,000 to 1,500 spaces at a time to do the work, RDU spokesman Andrew Sawyer said. Extra buses to economy lots to minimize wait times will be added.
As part of a separate project, up to 17 new message signs also are expected to provide real-time parking updates to travelers. Construction is expected to begin this fall. This project also includes replacing existing aging road signs.
The airport is trying to minimize the disruptions to travelers by implementing a free parking concierge program in late spring. Contracted staff will assist customers in locating available parking spaces, finding lost vehicles, providing jump starts and shuttling customers from the remote areas to the atrium with a dedicated electric vehicle. This program is expected to cost $455,000 during fiscal year 2017-18.
“We recognize as you start going through the construction, you’re going to have to wind up taking out a level at a time, and that’s extremely disruptive to our customers,” said Michael Landguth, RDU’s president and CEO. “So what we try to do is figure out how we can minimize that impact.”
In the future though, Landguth said, the airport may look at new ways to maximize use of the parking structure.
“I think there is potentially a longer term technology solution associated with wayfinding,” he said. “So you know you can look down the line and see there’s two stalls available and that are open.”
But Landguth said his priority is making sure that all of the work to the parking structure over the next year provides as little disruption to the fliers as possible.
“My primary focus first is getting a revenue control system that actually works with an online reservation system,” he said. “If we can successfully deploy that and make that successful as far as the customer is concerned then we would be looking for that next phase.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon