By Marc T. Henderson….
Blue skies to you!
If you traveled by air recently to see loved ones, friends or for business, you may have used Miami International Airport. Whether you are a frequent flier or haven’t been here in awhile, hopefully you were impressed with the enhancements and renovations being made.
There are new and improved terminal and check-in areas, more restaurants and shops than Miami International Airport has ever had, and breathtaking architecture and artwork on which to feast your eyes. A massive new rental car center that consolidates 16 rental car companies into one easy-to-find facility opened in July and coming in September is a people mover system that can whisk you from one end of North Terminal to the other in a few minutes.
Let me take you on a little tour. First the North Terminal.
North Terminal is 91 percent complete and nearing completion in 2011. Comprising 3.5 million square feet of new and renovated space, North Terminal, which includes Concourse D, has been converted to a linear design that doubles its efficiency and capacity. A new “front door” of check-in counters, baggage claim areas and checkpoints opened in November 2009 for direct access to newly opened gates. Another new checkpoint with easy access to 18 new gates opened in July, and a rooftop automated people mover system capable of transporting 9,000 passengers per hour between four stations is scheduled to begin running in September.
For those who have time before their flight, there are a myriad of new restaurants and stores. Some of these include: Au Bon Pain; Bijoux Terner; Boca Bons; Books and Books; The Britto Store, which includes art and merchandise by world-renowned artist Romero Britto; Coffee Beanery; Corona Beach House; Dunkin Donuts; two Duty Free Americas locations; Hudson News; Indulgence (bath and beauty products); Johnston & Murphy; La Carreta; Pizza Hut Express; Newslink; Sound Balance; Starbucks; Starfire Design; Sunglass Hut; Sushi Maki; Taxco Sterling; Jose Cuervo Tequileria and Tradewinds Bar.
Lastly, scheduled for completion next fall is a new Federal Inspection Services area for international arrivals. This area will contain 72 U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing lanes capable of assisting 3,600 passengers per hour.
Across the street from the airport on Le Jeune Road, the Miami Intermodal Center is fast on its way to becoming one of the largest multi-modal facilities in the nation. The first phase of this facility is the recently opened MIA Rental Car Center. The RCC is the second-largest facility of its kind in the United States behind Atlanta and boasts a capacity for 6,500 vehicles from 16 rental car companies. The facility’s four levels are each 20 acres – about the size of eight square city blocks. On three of those levels is a quick turnaround area for refueling and washing some 300 vehicles per hour, or 7,200 per day.
A fleet of 60 shuttle buses transports passengers between the RCC and the airport around the clock. The number of rental car buses has been shaved in half, reducing MIA roadway congestion by 15 percent. In the fall of 2011, the shuttle bus service will be completely replaced by the MIA Mover, a 1.1-mile, elevated, automated people mover system.
As you can see, a lot has happened at Miami International Airport in the past couple of years and there is still more to come!
(Marc T. Henderson is a Media Relations Manager for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, operator of MIA and a system of general aviation airports)