Miami Car-Rental Hub Project Hit with Two-Year Delay

MIAMI -- In the face of rising construction costs and the prospect of lighter rental-car traffic than anticipated, the consolidated car rental facility at Miami International Airport has been put on hold for two years, and the project’s capacity has been reduced.

According to a report in Miami Today, the car rental hub was slated for a 2006 opening, but officials at the Florida DOT think August 2008 is more likely now.

The Miami Intermodal Center is a plan to connect the various modes of transportation around the airport, and the consolidated facility was to be the first phase of that $1.3 billion project.

The facility’s initial plans called for 9,500 vehicle spaces, 42 car-wash bays and 120 fuel pumps, the report said. But the scale-back now has the structure looking to house 6,800 spaces, 30 car-wash bays and 84 fuel pumps.

The building, however, will maintain its four-story design, and is still expected to occupy the 20 acres that were set aside for the original model, the report said.

Another factor in trimming the project was that the number of interested car-rental operators had dropped from 22 at the onset to 16 interested parties today. But officials still contend, the report said, that the primary reason for the revised project plans had to do with rental-car congestion, or lack thereof. A current transaction fee of $3.50 tacked on to renters’ invoices funds the project, but that fee is going to jump to $4 when the hub is up and operating.

Heavy construction costs have also weighed on the project, with $433 million in loans from the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, the U.S. DOT’s funding program that supports large-scale surface projects such as this.

The consolidated facility broke ground in 2003. And with most of the subterranean work and foundation complete, the report said that officials expect construction to begin soon.

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