Reports confirm that the city of Chicago has officially inaugurated a ground transportation center at the O’Hare International Airport. The new center includes public parking and rental car facilities, along with a place for service dogs.
The 2.5 million sq. ft Multi Modal Facility cost about $841 million and offers a central access point for parking and rental cars, with a connection to regional busses planned for next year, sources close to the matter informed. O’Hare will become more convenient with this facility, helping it prepare for the giant $8.5 billion terminal expansion to be undertaken over the next decade.
According to the sources, the center had a soft opening a week ago but got a ceremonial opening this week, with its construction starting three years ago and supported by airport fees. A $272 million loan under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act that was secured in 2013 had partially financed the project.
The facility is serving 13 rental car operators, which include new operators like Fox Rent a Car, E-Z Rent a Car and Sixt as well some others which were previously located offsite. The public parking has space for 2,600 cars and there are added features at the center such as electronic car charging stations, nursing rooms for mothers, a grassy place for service animals and a future concessions spot that will open next summer.
Transystems, which worked together with Carol Ross Barney Architects, was the lead designer for the new facility. Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd, stated that by not offering a direct connection to the center from the nearby O’Hare stop of the Metra North Central Line, the aviation officials had missed an opportunity.
Hopkins mentioned that such a clear connection, which could also be a sidewalk, would allow commuters to connect to the People Mover train at the new facility easily for getting around the airport. The train is presently under repairs and on weekdays, shuttles are in operation in its place.