DFW AIRPORT -- Finding a parking space at Terminal A will be a little easier once Dallas/Fort Worth Airport completes a $175 million, 7,793-space garage unveiled Thursday.
DFW officials released the plans for the five-story garage, which will be one continuous building, unlike the current 5,000-space, three-section garage. The new garage will be in addition to the $1.9 billion terminal redevelopment plan the airport started in 2011.
"The Terminal A parking garage is a tremendous improvement over what we have today," airport CEO Jeff Fegan said. "We think our customers will be very pleased with the updates that they will soon see."
The new garage will have close to 3 million square feet and a parking guidance system to help drivers find spaces. A new roadway design will reduce the need for lane changes and will separate arrival traffic from departure traffic, officials said.
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Crews will begin demolishing the first section of the old garage this month, and the new structure will be built in three sections. The entire garage project will be completed in late 2014.
While the airport began renovating the northernmost third of Terminal A, which will reopen Dec. 7, officials had not decided on changes to the parking garages. Officials said they have not determined whether to build garages or add capacity to Terminals B, C, and E when they are renovated.
The airport plans to issue bonds to fund the garage construction. Fegan said the airport received approval from American Airlines, which uses Terminal A, to go ahead with the project. As part of its use agreement with the airport, part of the fees American pays will go toward paying those bonds.
Airport board members were pleased that terminal roadways and garage signs will be updated to make it easier for passengers to find their way. No one questioned the additional $175 million expense.
Late last year, Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investors Service lowered their outlook on DFW Airport bonds because of questions raised by American's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. American executives have indicated that they plan to retain the airline's hub operation at DFW as the company restructures.
Also at Thursday's board meeting, officials said passenger traffic at DFW rose 0.4 percent, to 4.3 million, in January compared with the same month last year. American, which carries close to 85 percent of the traffic at DFW, saw its passenger traffic drop 0.8 percent as the airline cut capacity during the slow winter travel season.
However, officials expect February traffic to be up 9.3 percent compared with February 2011, when severe ice storms led to the cancellation of thousands of flights during Super Bowl week.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631