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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/BEN GOFF A view of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport on Thursday March 3, 2016 in Highfill.

HIGHFILL -- The new parking deck at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport is on pace to open in early August, operations committee members were told Wednesday.

"It is going very well; I'm already hearing from the public how great they think the facility looks," said Kelly Johnson, airport director. "It blends well."

A new face

Siloam Springs has a new representative on the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport board of directors. Jim Krall has replaced Shelley Simmons. Krall is vice-president of advancement and an assistant professor of organizational leadership at John Brown University. Simmons recently moved and is no longer able to represent the city on the authority board.

Source: Staff report

The four-level deck with 1,400 parking spaces is expected to open Aug. 8.

The structure cost about $30 million. The deck is in front of the terminal and also will house car rental companies initially.

"We're in the finishing stages," said Jeff Gattis, with Nabholz Construction. "Really, the only hurdle we have left is the parking guidance system."

That system has been delivered and is being installed, Gattis said. He estimated it will take about three weeks per floor to install. Other work includes striping, finishing exterior details and cleaning up.

Gattis also had a surprise for airport officials. It appears the project will come in $850,000 to $890,000 under budget. Airport staff is looking at whether to use some of that leftover cash for new, overhead directional signs on the airport driveway.

The operations committee agreed Wednesday to recommend to the full board next week a one-year extension of the contract with Republic Parking to manage and operate parking at the airport. Republic is recommending an initial fee of $14 per day for parking in the deck.

At about $5.3 million annually, parking is the largest revenue stream at the airport, and ride services providers, such as Uber and Lyft, appear to be cutting into that, Johnson told the operations committee members.

Johnson said enplanements, or passengers flying out of the airport, are up, but parking revenue is down about 5 percent this year.

"It appears to be trending in that direction," Johnson said. "We get a report every month about how many pick-ups and drop-offs there are, and that is going up. People are discovering they are here, and while our passenger loads are up 5.36 percent year-to-date, our parking lot revenues have gone down. So, it appears to be impactful."

Johnson said staff will continue to collect and analyze data, at least six months worth, to see if there is a trend.

"The important thing to remember here is the airport doesn't get any money from anybody but its tenants and its users, so if we have an impacted revenue, we still have to generate X dollars to keep the place operational," Johnson said. "So, if you have one revenue going down, you need to look at either how do you fix that or how do you find another revenue to go up to offset those operating expenses."

NW News on 06/14/2018

Print Headline: Airport parking deck set to open in August

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