The Bradley International Airport is located about halfway between Hartford, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts. It is Connecticut's busiest airport and the second busiest airport in New England transporting over 5.8 million travelers in 2022. The number of travelers continues to increase as the industry recovers from COVID-19. BDL introduced a new precast concrete consolidated rental car facility (ConRAC) and ground transportation center (GTC), a state-of-the-art landslide aviation facility at the airport's front door, to support millions of passengers in 2023.
Located on a 20-acre site, the 1.5 million-square-foot facility is comprised of three distinct and connected buildings: Quick Turnaround Garage (QTA), Ready/Return Garage, and Vertical Circulation Core.
The entire facility is connected to the terminal by an elevated, covered pedestrian bridge and features the airport's three-letter identifier, BDL, in bright lights. The five-story QTA garage houses carwashes, service bays, refueling and vacuum stations, administration offices, and support/storage spaces, as well as facilities for cleaning and maintaining rental car fleets. The Ready/Return garage is distinguished by two circular precast helices that traverse from floor to floor of the five-story garage where visitors can rent and return vehicles. The first level is dedicated to public parking, which extends BDL's current public parking garage to satisfy the needs of the traveling public. There are quick ramps connecting the QTA garage and the Ready/Return Garage on each level and the top floor of both garages houses rental car storage.
Blakeslee Prestress Inc. manufactured 3,936 precast concrete elements for this project including Double-Tees, Single-Tees, Girders, Columns, Stairs, Solid Slabs, Wall Panels, Shear Walls, and Lite Walls.
In the past, the existing rental car lots were spread across the airport, necessitating the usage of shuttle buses to and from the terminal. The new precast concrete facility has dramatically enhanced customer experience and supports sustainability efforts by eliminating 250,000 shuttle rides every year. Additionally, the inherent energy efficiency of precast concrete wall panels reduces fluctuations in the temperature of interior spaces. The parking facility includes nearly 2,800 rental car spaces, nine car washes, 36 fueling stations, and more than 50 electric vehicle charging stations. Adding 830 new public parking spaces has increased BDL's parking by 10% and has minimized ground transit curbside congestion in front of the terminal.
Precast concrete was used to accommodate the stacked structure of three critical components - the distributed customer service building, ready/return facilities, and quick turn-around areas for fleet washing, vacuuming, and fueling - all allotted to each floor. This design maximizes operational efficiency while minimizing the structure's footprint, resulting in cost savings, and allowing each rental vehicle company to construct its own customer service space on each floor.
The project team determined early in the design-build planning phase that prefabricating the garage's precast concrete components off-site saved more than 12 months on the building schedule. The prefabricated components also ensured rigorous quality control.
The new precast concrete consolidated rental car facility was developed in response to the growing design trends and was scaled to accommodate the industry's future expansion. The development of a multi-level core aided in reducing the overall footprint, resulting in a compact and efficient parking facility that serves as a prototype for future airports.
The Ground Transportation Center at Bradley International Airport has been awarded "Project of the Year" by Airport Business Magazine. The award recognizes the project's transformation of the airport's footprint as well as its dedication to improving the passenger experience. According to Airport Business Magazine, winners were selected based on innovation, vision, impact, collaboration, and their abilities to overcome challenges.