Eppley Airfield is getting closer to debuting its new parking garage and rental car facility — a major step in the airport’s continued growth.
With construction entering its final phases, the Omaha Airport Authority is on track to open the garage later this summer, although an exact date has not been set.
The $70 million garage will reshape the traffic flow for many people using Eppley Airfield.
Airport Authority officials say the changes will mean a big upgrade for people flying in and out of Eppley. Not only will the garage offer 2,000 new public parking spaces, but people looking for a space also can connect with technology that helps their hunt for one. When they walk to or from the terminal, they will do so without ever going outside.
The parking expansion stems from Eppley’s steady business growth — an increase in available flights and a doubling of the number of nonstop destinations in recent years to 34. In 2018, Eppley surpassed 5 million passengers for the first time.
In turn, the Airport Authority has a master plan that calls for expanding Eppley’s facilities, including a rebuild of the airport terminal at a potential cost of $500 million.
But first up is the parking garage.
“We know there’s the demand. People need convenient, close-in, covered parking,” said Steve McCoy, the Airport Authority’s director of air service and business development.
For people visiting Omaha, the facility will place rental car counters and the rental cars themselves within a short walk of the terminal. One thousand spaces in the garage are for rental cars.
The new facility will do away with Omaha’s temporary shuttle bus system to get air travelers to their rentals. The project follows the national trend of airports building consolidated rental car facilities, placing rental car services together to maximize convenience for the customers.
Labeled as the North Garage, the new facility sits north of the existing parking garage, which is now being called the South Garage, and north of the terminal’s current endpoint. It’s situated along Eppley’s current exit routes.
The car rental customer service building, enclosed by windows that look out onto the runways, will help connect the terminal and the new garage.
In the garage, rental cars and car returns will take up the first two floors. Public parking will be on floors three through six.
Rental car returns will enter directly off Abbott Drive. Avis, Budget, Hertz and Payless Car Rental are on the first floor; Alamo, Dollar, Enterprise, National and Thrifty are on the second floor.
Customers will drop off their rental cars under cover of the garage, a few steps from the customer service building.
Garage parkers will enter off Abbott Drive, too, without needing to enter the existing driveway in front of the terminal. But rental car customers and garage parkers will have separate routes; the parking entrance is farther north.
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The garage features LED lighting, higher ceilings and an interior brightly painted in white, open sight-lines across the garage and an entrance/exit ramp clearly established in one corner of the garage. It all has a more orderly layout than the existing garage, which was built over the course of 30 years of expansions, McCoy said.
“This has a little bit more of a uniform feel,” he said.
It will have the latest in tech, too, with electric-charging stations, sensors and a tracking system to analyze parking availability, and electronic signs to point people to open stalls.
As the grand opening approaches, Eppley has been promoting its new parking brand — ParkOMA — to tie together the airport’s official parking options. On Eppley’s website — www.flyoma.com — and the flyOMA app, people will be able to scope out available parking before arriving at the airport.
Parking in the North Garage is expected to cost $16 per day, although the open top floor will be $12.
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Fortune rank: No. 3 with revenue of $242.1 billion; down from No. 2 last year. First cracked Fortune list in 1989 at No. 205.
History: The holding company of large- and medium-sized firms and investments has grown largely from the singular wisdom of Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett. It started as an investment pool of family and friends in Omaha in the mid-1950s. In 1965, Buffett bought the textile company that gave Berkshire its name. (Ironically, he later called it his worst investment.) His philosophy of buying successful companies with firm niches and keeping leadership in place has achieved returns well in excess of the stock market. The move into insurance was key, as Buffett uses premium reserves available for investment to fund additional purchases. Forbes notes that Berkshire now generates nearly three-quarters of its revenue from its non-financial operating businesses. At 87, Buffett is the oldest CEO of a Fortune 500 company. The company has maintained its offices at Omaha’s Kiewit Plaza since 1962.
Fortune rank: No. 137 on revenue of $21.7 billion; down from No. 126 from last year.
History: Founded in 1955 as American Family Life Insurance by John Amos and his brothers Paul and Bill in Columbus, Georgia, Aflac pays benefits when people are sick or injured. It gained wider recognition starting in 2000 with a marketing campaign using a duck that announces its name. In 2002, Aflac moved its legal domicile to Nebraska for tax reasons and located a regional office in Omaha, although its main offices remain in Georgia.
Fortune rank: No. 141 on revenue of $21.2 billion; up from No. 143 last year. Listed each year since non-manufacturing companies were added to the list in 1995.
History: The company was created by the 1862 Pacific Railway Act, an act of Congress that called for construction of a transcontinental rail line from the Missouri River to the West Coast. The first track was laid out of Omaha in 1865, and U.P. grew into a national icon. Multiple mergers over 150 years helped U.P. amass the nation’s largest rail network, with operations in 23 western states and prime rail connections into Mexico. In 2004, the railroad opened a new 19-story headquarters downtown that serves about 2,900 of the company’s 42,000 employees.
Fortune rank: No. 313 on revenue of $9.5 billion; the same ranking as last year.
History: Founded in 1868 in Sacramento, California, as Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co., the company’s life insurance, annuity and other financial products pay $2.3 billion in benefits each year. Although its main office is in Newport Beach, California, in 2004 Pacific Life moved its legal domicile to Nebraska for tax reasons and now has a regional office in Omaha’s Aksarben Village.
Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc.
Fortune rank: No. 339 on revenue of $8.7 billion; down from No. 324 last year. Made its Fortune debut in 1991 and since 1998 has been listed every year but one. Is privately held but qualifies for the Fortune list because it publicly reports revenue.
History: Three sons of Peter Kiewit took over their father’s Omaha construction company, with the youngest, also named Peter, credited with turning it into one of the nation’s largest. The company took off while building military installations during World War II and the Cold War. It also built more miles of Interstate system than any other contractor, causing Fortune to dub Peter Kiewit “the Colossus of Roads.” Today, it is one of the largest employee-owned firms in the world and one of only a handful of construction companies big enough to take on billion-dollar projects.
Mutual of Omaha
Fortune rank: No. 337 on revenue of $8.7 billion; up from No. 342 last year. Made its debut in 1995, dropped off in 2006 and 2007, but solidly on the list since.
History: Got off to a humble start in 1909 as the Mutual Benefit Health and Accident Association, initially struggling to attract policyholders. Under the leadership of Creighton medical student C.C. Criss and later V.J. Skutt, it grew and by the 1950s had emerged as a leading health and accident insurer. The name was changed to Mutual of Omaha in 1962, and a year later it became a household name with sponsorship of the popular “Wild Kingdom” TV show. The company rebranded its familiar Native American head logo in 2001, expanded into banking in 2007, and renewed its commitment to its midtown Omaha headquarters by developing the mixed-use Midtown Crossing.
Fortune rank: No. 630 on revenue of $3.7 billion; up from No. 674 last year.
History: Founder Joe Ricketts saw an opportunity in 1975 when the Securities and Exchange Commission eliminated the practice of fixed brokerage commissions. Ricketts’ firm, First Omaha Securities Inc., began offering discounted commissions and helped usher in a new era of investing, coupled with technology that evolved from touch-tone phones to the Internet. Forty years later, TD Ameritrade has more than 11 million client accounts with more than $1.2 trillion in assets and custodial services for more than 6,000 independent registered investment advisers. Clients trade more than 940,000 times each day.
Green Plains Inc.
Fortune rank: No. 648 on revenue of $3.6 billion; up from No. 662 last year.
History: Since its founding in 2004, Green Plains Inc. has grown to be North America’s second-largest producer of ethanol. The Omaha-based firm grew rapidly through a series of acquisitions that gives it control over various segments of the industry, from grain handling to production to marketing and distribution. Green Plains makes about 1.5 billion gallons of ethanol each year.
Fortune rank: No. 782 on revenue of $2.7 billion; up from No. 804 last year.
History: In 1946, Robert B. Daugherty spent nearly his life’s savings — $5,000 — to buy a small manufacturing company on a farm near Valley to build farm elevators. Years later, with the invention of center-pivot irrigation, Valmont found its niche. It then expanded into steel pipe and tubing manufacturing for irrigation systems and other industries. Through acquisitions and new construction, the company grew to be a global player in certain segments of the agriculture, communications and utilities markets. Today, Valmont’s worldwide operations are constantly looking for opportunities to expand its four business sectors: engineered support structures (steel and aluminum poles for traffic lights, street lighting, etc.); utility support structures (poles for electrical transmission lines, etc.); irrigation; and coatings (galvanization).
Fortune rank: No. 929 on revenue of $2.1 billion; up from No. 934 last year.
History: Clarence L. Werner founded Werner Enterprises Inc. in 1956 at age 19. It grew to become a premier transportation and logistics company with operations throughout North America, Asia, Europe, South America, Africa and Australia. The Omaha-based company is among the five largest truckload carriers in the United States, offering diverse services that include dedicated; medium-to-long-haul, regional and local van; expedited; temperature-controlled; and flatbed. Werner also provides freight management, truck brokerage, intermodal and international services. International services are provided through subsidiary companies and include ocean, air and ground transportation; freight forwarding; and customs brokerage.