Parking might be an issue throughout the area, but Charleston International Airport has found a way to add 2,400 more spaces.
On Thursday the airport celebrated the opening of a new $88 million, five-tier parking garage, which also provides additional amenities.
Rates in the daily parking garage, the name of the new facility, start at $5 an hour or $17 a day. In the older three-tier structure, called the hourly deck, parking fees have increased from $15 to $21 a day with its hourly rate remaining at $3.
On the surface lot, rates have risen from $10 to $11 a day, and hourly rates have increased by $2 to now $5 an hour. Valet parking is not available during the pandemic, the airport said.
CEO of Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Chairwoman of the Aviation Authority Board Helen Hill said the project was completed on time and within budget, despite the challenges from the pandemic.
“The daily parking garage is a key component of our long-range commitment to ensuring the airport’s infrastructure meets our community’s needs… As air travel returns, the CHS team is excited to display our region’s renowned hospitality and showcase why we were again voted one of the nation’s best airports,” she said.
Improving the parking experience for travelers, the daily garage offers covered access to and from the terminal as well as flight information with kiosks and digital message display monitors. There also will be three elevators, electrical charging stations, a security system and a new traffic circle to steer drivers to the new parking deck.
Level 1 of the garage also will have nearly 500 spaces for rental car pick up and return.
Elliott Summey, airport executive director and CEO and chairman of Charleston County Council celebrated Thursday’s ribbon cutting ceremony along with the Charleston County Aviation Authority board, LS3P Associates Ltd., Roy Anderson Corp. and others.
“This facility is part of a forward-thinking strategy that provides for today’s customer needs and anticipates tomorrow’s growth,” he said.
In addition to providing extra parking for travelers, the new garage also will temporarily benefit Medical University of South Carolina by offering a mobile COVID-19 diagnostic testing site on the fourth floor of the airport’s daily garage. The site will be open today through Wednesday from 1:30 p.m. through 4:30 p.m.
“At Charleston International Airport, we understand the importance of COVID-19 testing to individual and community health and are thankful for our partnership with MUSC,” Summey said. “To be able to offer this critical service to the thousands of airport employees, stakeholders, and our community will undoubtedly help stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Test results are typically available within 24-48 hours, so MUSC encourages individuals not to get tested the day of travel.
Patrick J. Cawley, CEO and vice president medical affairs at MUSC, said mobile testing sites are important and the medical university is grateful for the chance to serve the community through the partnership with Charleston International Airport.
“We strongly encourage people who are traveling for Thanksgiving to get tested before they do so… Testing now can make a significant difference in whether or not our hospitals become overwhelmed in the weeks ahead,” Cawley said. “A safer Thanksgiving is also about ensuring a safer December holiday season for us all.”