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CHAPTER 4 Project Definition and Planning An offsite terminal is located in an area that is remote from the airport and serves its market area with a transportation link that provides service to and from the airport terminal area. The offsite terminal should offer an enclosed waiting area for its customers and sufficient secure parking. This chapter presents considerations and rules of thumb for the planning and development of the trans- portation link, parking, and the offsite terminal. Also discussed are guidelines for estimating the minimum parcel size for the offsite terminal. Site characteristics were discussed in Chapter 3. This chapter begins by discussing additional considerations in the site selection process. Site Selection Process Chapter 3 shows how to conduct a market analysis for an offsite terminal. Various site char- acteristics important to the success of an offsite terminal are presented as part of this analysis. Some of these characteristics are proximity of the offsite terminal to highway on- and off-ramps and the location of the offsite terminal in relation to the traveler's customary travel path to the airport. Site availability, cost, and the time to prepare a site will ultimately determine where the offsite terminal will be located or whether it makes sense to open an offsite terminal at a particular time in the market area under consideration. Finding an appropriate site can be a difficult and time- consuming task. Location Site location is crucial to the success of the offsite terminal and transportation link. The off- site terminal must be located in an area not considered out of the way by the customer relative to their typical route to the airport. The offsite terminal must be far enough from the airport, relative to the distance already traveled, for the customer to consider stopping rather than con- tinuing on to the airport. In addition, the site of the offsite terminal and the surrounding area must be considered secure and safe; otherwise, the customer will not use the facility and will choose to travel directly to the airport. Minimum Parcel Size The minimum parcel size can be estimated by developing layouts that include the offsite termi- nal, air passenger and employee parking, private and commercial vehicle circulation, loading and unloading areas for the airport transportation link and intermodal connections, and commercial 21
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22 Planning for Offsite Airport Terminals vehicle layover areas. Considerations for estimating the terminal size and sizing the parking inven- tory are provided in this chapter. For an offsite terminal with minimal intermodal connections, automobile parking will account for a large proportion of the land area required. To add some flexibility to what properties might be available for the offsite terminal, the proj- ect sponsor may define a minimum parcel size for surface parking and a minimum parcel size for structured parking, if the provision of structured parking is an option for the project sponsor. Site Availability Once the minimum parcel size for the offsite terminal has been determined based on near- term and long-term space needs, the project sponsor will begin the search for a viable site that meets size, location, and cost criteria, unless the site for the offsite terminal has been predeter- mined. Furthermore, the political environment must be favorable for introducing the offsite ter- minal in the area being considered, including public sentiment and reception by local officials. There is the possibility the public will be concerned about potential negative impacts generated by the offsite terminal such as additional vehicle trips generated in the areas surrounding the off- site terminal. Properties under consideration may also need to be rezoned for the intended use. A property under consideration must be available for lease or sale by an owner who is willing to work with the project sponsor. A parcel requiring extensive site preparation or mitigation will add cost to the project and time to the schedule for opening the offsite terminal. Examples of potential mitigation include cleaning up hazardous materials and providing solutions for main- taining or improving traffic flow at surrounding intersections. The project sponsor must decide whether it prefers to buy or lease the property for the offsite terminal. This decision may be driven by cost and policies of the sponsoring organization regard- ing the purchase or lease of off-airport property. A long-term lease (minimum of 20 years) could be structured with purchase and early termination options. This arrangement may be optimal for testing the market for the offsite terminal. Shorter-term leases may result in renewal rates that are unfavorable to the project sponsor, with the alternative of relocation undesirable and perhaps impossible based on land availability, location criteria, and the political climate. In the search for a site, the sponsoring organization may not find the "ideal" site and will have to make tradeoffs in selecting the site such as · Selecting a site that doesn't meet all of the location criteria, · Sharing the property with another use, · Establishing the offsite terminal in another market area, or · Waiting until a site becomes available in the optimal part of the market area. If the sponsoring organization decides to locate the offsite terminal on a property with other uses, the offsite terminal and transportation link should have a clear identity and be easy for cus- tomers to find and use. Dedicated parking should be provided and the airport transportation link should have a dedicated boarding and alighting area. It is recommended that customers are provided with a dedicated waiting area. Cost For each parcel being considered, there will be a cost for acquisition or leasing, site preparation, design, construction, potential environmental studies such as an environmental impact report, and other studies and mitigation. There may be operating costs that are unique to some properties. When considering an individual property or comparing properties, it is important to identify and estimate all costs. Chapter 5, Costs and Benefits, provides information on cost categories.