Bradley Airport unveils new rental car center

WINDSOR LOCKS — With the backdrop of a live string quartet, hundreds gathered to celebrate completion of a new transportation center that was years in the making at Bradley International Airport.

Amid free goody-bags with stainless steel wine glasses, airport and elected officials stood atop the spotless freshly installed linoleum flooring to discuss the airport improvements brought about in the $210 million project.

Construction on the project, called the ground transportation center, began in 2019. But it was first announced in about 2016.

“This came to life five years ago and despite the setback of COVID, I’m proud to say this facility was brought in on schedule and on budget,” said Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority.The $210 million facility, which has been financed completely through rental car user fees, is certainly going to elevate the customer experience here at Bradley.”

The new facility spans over 13 acres, with all of the rental car outlets moving onto airport property, Dillon said.

“Prior to its opening, they were scattered in and around the airport,” he said. Customers no longer need to take a shuttle from the airport to pick up their rental cars.

Simplifying the transportation from the airport presents a financial and environmental boon as well, Dillon said.

Streamlining the rental car program will eliminate about 250,000 bus trips from the airport annually, he said. The rental companies plan to shift toward an all-electric fleet of vehicles, starting with the installation of multiple car-charging ports at the center.

“It’s a major customer service improvement that will be located in one location,” Dillon said. “You no longer have to take a bus to get to your rental car, that’s a huge environmental savings as well.”

Also, the transportation center added about 850 covered parking spaces at the airport.

While some parking areas of the new center are already in use, the ground transportation center will officially open to the public on July 13.

Opening of the ground transportation center is just the latest step in what both airport and state officials hope will be a continued effort toward ease of transit and connectivity in Connecticut.

“What we are really after is a rail connection. We believe we can demonstrate the need for a light rail connection coming from the Hartford rail line directly into this facility,” Dillon said. “We do want to process all the regional buses that currently serve the airport into this facility. We are hopeful down the road we may get to a point where people can process their baggage in this facility. These are things we can hopefully put online over time.”

State Transportation Commissioner Joe Giulietti echoed Dillon’s view on expanding public transportation access, in part by increasing the numbers of buses heading to the airport.

Additionally, Giulietti mentioned plans to add five additional CTRail stations in the state, one of which is already funded in nearby Enfield. While the currently appropriated $32 million will all go toward the Enfield station, officials hope to acquire funds to construct four other stations across the state in Windsor, Windsor Locks, West Hartford and North Haven, along with Enfield.

“We are going to have a lot more connections because were looking to have a new station in Windsor Locks,” Giulietti said. “In the past, there’s been a provision of buses that would occasionally operate over here out of Hartford and Windsor. Now we will be connecting with all those trains that, thankfully to our own representatives who came up with matching funds, we have money to provide those types of services.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., thanked the laborers who worked on the transportation center and enabled the project to be completed on schedule, despite a setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blumenthal also touted the elected official’s allocation of $64 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, as proven dedication to Connecticut’s largest airport.

“The $64 million we provided through the CARES Act during the pandemic enabled Bradley to survive when airport traffic plummeted by 60 (percent) to 80 percent,” Blumenthal said. “That was a really bleak period for airline traffic and the airline industry in America. We made sure they were able to be sustained so they could use that money instead of the money was available for this project.”

Alongside the increased convenience and environmental impacts, the transportation center will also create an economic appeal for the state, said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

As business travelers and company executives see Bradley as they land in Connecticut, the attractive new facility and ease of traveling from the terminal to the car rental companies will inspire businesses to consider the state for future enterprises, Murphy said.

[email protected]

Previous post Visitor Info Centre Opens for Summer Season
Next post Disney Dining Plan Not Available for 2023 Vacation Packages