$156 Million Infrastructure to Enhance Rental Car Experience, Reduce Roadway Traffic and Emissions
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 31, 2023 – The Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority today celebrated the groundbreaking of its $156 million consolidated rent-a-car facility, or CONRAC. The event marked a significant milestone in the Airport's ongoing efforts to enhance the passenger experience and streamline ground transportation services for guests and travelers.
The CONRAC will offer an array of benefits to both travelers and rental car partners. By creating a dedicated facility designed to bring together multiple rental car agencies under one roof, passengers will enjoy improved efficiency, enhanced customer service, easy access to a wide selection of rental car options and a climate-controlled skywalk that connects the facility to the main terminal building. The CONRAC will feature a spacious, modern design with state-of-the-art technology, dedicated rental car counters and efficient vehicle pickup and drop-off areas.
"We are thrilled to break ground on the CONRAC, which is critical to accommodating forecasted passenger growth at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport," said Airport Authority Board Chair Dan Koorndyk. "This facility represents our commitment to providing a world-class travel experience to our guests, we look forward to seeing this project come to fruition and the positive impact it will have on the entire region of West Michigan."
The CONRAC introduces a quick turn-around operation that will reduce vehicle miles traveled by 3 miles per vehicle, or 600,000 miles per year. This feature will remove more than 90% of the rental car operations from the Airport’s roadway system, resulting in a reduction of 500,000 lbs. of carbon per year and increasing curbside capacity.
“This facility represents a significant step forward in our mission to build new spaces that are efficient, long-lasting and environmentally responsible,” said Tory Richardson, president and CEO of the Ford International Airport Authority. “The CONRAC will provide a more sustainable and streamlined rental car experience, contribute to the local economy by creating more than 2,000 construction jobs, and provide rental car facilities to support forecasted passenger demand over the next 20 years.”
The construction of the CONRAC is part of the ELEVATE capital expansion program, which includes more than $500 million in critical infrastructure investments to improve the guest experience while positioning the Airport for continued growth.
Plans for additional infrastructure improvements under the ELEVATE program are also underway, including:
- The addition of a federal inspection station, or FIS, which will enable the Airport to offer nonstop international commercial passenger flights. The first phase – the addition of a new baggage claim area, restrooms and operational infrastructure – has been completed. These enhancements are being used for domestic flights until the full FIS project is complete.
- The relocation of the air traffic control tower, or ATCT, to make way for diverse terminal-area developments such as additional tenant hangars and more parking. The Airport selected a new site, which was reviewed and approved virtually by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2021 – the first-ever virtual sighting of an ATCT. With siting complete, efforts now transition to the design phase in 2023.
- The expansion and widening of Concourse A will add eight new gates, increase the number of concession and retail options, add an executive lounge and provide a greater variety of seating options. The first phase of Concourse A will open in summer 2023 and be completed in 2024.
- Additional parking capacity to accommodate increased guest traffic.
- Proposed plans to expand the terminal to accommodate a new checked baggage inspection system, or CBIS, which will streamline the post-ticket counter journey for baggage, decrease processing time and increase capacity.
“The Ford International Airport generates substantial economic activity, attracting businesses, tourism and fostering job creation,” said Doug Small, president and CEO of Experience Grand Rapids. “This project represents a significant investment in the region's tourism industry, demonstrating the Airport's commitment to meeting the evolving needs of its passengers, connecting our region to the global marketplace and opening doors of opportunity for our community."
Kent County Board of Commissioners Chair Stan Stek, who spoke at today’s event, recognized the importance of investing in critical infrastructure that benefits our community, strengthens our local economy and solidifies the Airport's position as a premier transportation hub in West Michigan.
"We are proud to have partnered with the Airport Authority Board in financing the expansion of Concourse A, and the construction of the consolidated rental car facility,” said Kent County Board of Commissioners Chair Stan Stek. “This new facility will not only enhance the overall travel experience but accommodate the projected passenger growth well into the future. Together, we are paving the way for a more efficient and enjoyable Airport journey for all."
The CONRAC facility received the full support of Ford International Airport’s rental car partners, including Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz/Dollar and National/Alamo. The project is scheduled for completion in 2025, and the facility is expected to be fully operational shortly thereafter. Turner Construction Company is serving as the construction manager for the CONRAC while locally based Fishbeck is the design project manager and architect of record.
No local taxpayer dollars will be used to finance any of the projects included in the ELEVATE program, which will be paid for with a combination of federal and state grants, municipal bonds issued by the Airport and user fees. For more information about the CONRAC and other ongoing ELEVATE developments, please visit FlyFord.org/ELEVATE.
About the Gerald R. Ford International Airport
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport is the second busiest airport in Michigan, serving business and leisure travelers with nonstop and connecting flights on six airlines. The Ford International Airport is managed and operated by the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. For more information, visit www.flyford.org or follow the airport on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram @FlyGRFord.
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