At Tweed New Haven Regional Airport, a $1.31 million effort to improve pedestrian and vehicle accessibility has taken flight.
The construction project began the first week of October and will simplify the current parking scheme by merging two of the airport’s three lots into a larger 90-car zone, with a pedestrian walkway installed down the middle. As opposed to progressing in the complex “figure eight” manner as of before, vehicle navigation will be through a smooth, one-way loop around the lot. The project is anticipated to conclude by May 2014.
“The layout of the parking lot previously was an absolute labyrinth,” Chris Guillereault, the project engineer for Waters Construction Company, said.
Prior to construction, parking was divided into short-term, long-term, and metered lots, depending on the length of time the vehicle remained. According to George Jacobs, associate vice president of Dewberry — the engineering consultant firm on the project — the first stage of construction will create a large parking lot from the merging of the short-term and metered lots. The long-term lot will remain open during construction.
Tim Larson, the executive director of Tweed, added that the parking spaces will be slightly larger than average to accommodate access to baggage.
The new pedestrian walkway, previously a series of angular walkways that threaded through the three lots, will offer more direct access from the parking lot to the terminal. In addition to connecting the long-term lot to the newer lot, the walkway will also be well lit and raised a few inches off the ground to account for the effects of weather.
According to Larson, the parking lot will be completed by the first week in December. The second phase of the project entails further work on the road encircling the lot. The new road eases the flow of traffic and simplifies entry and exit to Tweed, Guillereault said. He added, “The circulation road is currently fully functional, so cars dropping off passengers still have direct access to the terminal.”
The third and final phase of the construction project will focus efforts on improving the taxi stand near the terminal by adding new pavement to better walking conditions. Jacobs added that pavement quality and drainage issues were a chief concern.
Larson said that beyond structural changes, the project will also entail landscaping.
“We’re including some swales and greenery into the project to accommodate a better look and also to help with some of the drainage,” he said.
The green area adjacent to the new parking lot could in theory be removed to add roughly 15-30 more parking spaces. Larson added that Tweed’s potential growth in the future may be supplemented by more highly technological innovations, such as plug-in spots for electric vehicles.
The construction project has not been without its challenges. Jacobs said that because facets of Tweed have been “tweaked” but not improved in a substantial way, the land contains remnants of previous construction that have been forgotten.
“So as we’re excavating, we’re finding features that we didn’t expect to find,” he said. “Things weren’t really mapped because they were buried.”
Despite the challenges, Ward 7 Alderman Doug Hausladen ’04 praised the efforts of the construction project, adding that Tweed is a key aspect of New Haven’s economic development.
The project is being funded by the state Department of Economic and Community Development and the Federal Aviation Administration.