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Airport plans to open cell-phone lot this week

by Jessica Seaman | June 22, 2011 at 4:58 a.m.

— Little Rock National Airport, Adams Field, will open a cell-phone lot this week that airport staff hopes will ease traffic congestion at the airport.

Instead of circling Airport Drive until passengers are ready to be picked up or paying parking fees in other lots, drivers will be able to park in the cell-phone lot for free while they wait for a passenger to call them.

Ron Mathieu, executive director of the airport, said the lot is expected to be open by Thursday.

“It is just about complete and will open before the end of the week,” he said.

The cell-phone lot will be located in the northwest corner of the Aerospace Education Center parking lot, less than a mile from where drivers pick up passengers, said Airport Commissioner Tom Schueck.

The Aerospace Education Center has been unused since it was closed by the Arkansas Aviation Historical Society in December because of a lack of revenue because of a dwindling number of school field trips and tourists, the loss of its library branch, and higher operating costs.

Airport Commissioner Jim Dailey said the parking lot at the center is being used as a way to limit costs.

“The [Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission] did not want to spend a lot of money on [the cell-phone lot], which is why we found using the lot at the Aerospace Education Center, which is airport-owned, to be a good option for us,” Dailey said.

Mathieu said just more than $21,000 was spent to renovate the parking lot at the center. Striping, lighting and signs had to be established and drainage issues and potholes fixed before the 40-space lot could open, he said.

Dailey said the commission hopes the airport will eventually find a tenant to use the Aerospace Education Center building, and if that happens, the airport will have to decide what to do about the cell-phone lot.

“It won’t necessarily have to be [moved] because there is a lot of parking space there,” Dailey said.

While the lot won’t create revenue for the airport, Schueck said it will help customers save money and cut down on traffic.

“It works in some of the bigger cities, we don’t know what it will do here but it is really convenient,” he said.

Kay Kelley Arnold, secretary of the commission, said staff will monitor the cellphone lot to see how often it is being used.

She said even if it isn’t being used often it wouldn’t hurt the airport, because the parking lot needs the improvements that were made to it.

“Our goal is to respond to customer requests,” Arnold said.

“We will just have to see how it is being used and if it is something that makes coming and going to the airport a little easier.”

Arkansas, Pages 9 on 06/22/2011

Print Headline: Airport plans to open cell-phone lot this week

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