Norfolk Airport hopes to ease traffic on Thanksgiving with free parking and short-term parking – The Virginian-Pilot

Packed with a record number of Thanksgiving passengers this week, Norfolk International Airport has made some logistical adjustments to reduce traffic congestion when carrying passengers.

Last week the airport opened a cellphone plaza, a separate area where the public can park for free while waiting for passengers to disembark and let drivers know they are ready to board. In addition, motorists can now park their car in any parking lot or garage for up to 30 minutes for free.

Previously, the cell phone was only used as a staging area for tour drivers and airport contractors, according to Steve Sterling, executive vice president and chief of staff for the Norfolk Airport Authority.

The airport has had complaints about congestion for years, sometimes so badly in the passenger loading area that traffic has moved around the baggage claim area to block the entrance to Garage A, the short-term car park and the rental car park, according to Sterling. He said much of the congestion was caused by people not wanting to pay parking fees.

“What we were looking for was an alternative for people who want to avoid paying parking fees and come here and pick up their guests,” Sterling said. “What they do is park and wait at the curb, in most airports, and that’s not allowed. Historically, we’ve allowed that here.”

New signage along the passenger pickup area now prohibits parking and indicates that it is a loading or unloading area only, Sterling said, allowing it to be enforced by airport security.

In the week after the cellphone outlet opened, the congestion eased, Sterling said.

Sterling said the airport saw record passenger numbers in 2019 when it had nearly 3.9 million passengers, and is on track to surpass that by 4% this year. He added that more and more planes are operating at full capacity, which means it is difficult for those who miss their flights to reschedule. advise passengers b Arrive early and download their airline’s app so they can stay up to date with any changes to their flights.

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The lot that becomes a cell phone place, which lies between the exit from baggage claim and the Norview Street long-term car park, has recently been repaved and divided into separate sections for general drivers and shared tour drivers.

The back half of the lot is geo-targeted for tour drivers, and the public can pick up passengers from the front half of the lot. Uber sends users push notifications when they get off the plane to show available drivers within the geo-fenced area, who are the first to accept rides. Cars left in the cell phone lot overnight will be ticketed and towed later.

An increase in the number of passengers arriving at Norfolk International Airport in Norfolk, Virginia, is expected during the upcoming holiday season, as seen on November 21, 2022.

Stirling explained that the idea of ​​a lot of mobile phones was included in the draft master plan for the airport in 2020, but it would have taken several years to get the land available.

“We’re now in record passenger numbers, so it’s becoming more and more clear that we need to do something,” Sterling said.

He added that the airport is still working on some aspects of entry and exit for the cellular sector.

A large digital sign directs motorists to the cell phone stand at the entrance to the airport grounds from Norview Street. Sterling said that this mark will remain elevated throughout the holiday season.

Gavin Stone, gavin.stone@virginiamedia.com

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