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.

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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.

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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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