Tampa, Florida -- For the first time, 10 News can give you a look at Tampa International Airport's biggest-ever expansion that's set to start in the new year and bring dramatic changes.
With Tampa Bay growing, some parts of the airport are set to run out of room in just over two years.So, planners have set aside a billion dollars to make sure the airport doesn't burst at the seams.And they say, in the process, it should make flying even better at what's already routinely rated as one of America's best airports.
Most people come here for the planes, but the key to TIA's expansion is a train.
New video from Tampa International Airport shows a computer animation of a brand new monorail, tram, shuttle -- whatever you want to call it -- zipping along to a new, huge rental car center.
They'll build the rental center right by the main entrance, where you drive into the airport.
And even if you never rent a car, you'll love this part: Moving rentals here frees up 2,400 parking spaces in the airport's garage, for you.And all of those rental cars, plus taxis and hotel vans, now won't ever have to drive up close the airport. They'll stay way south, making a better drive for you.
"We will be turning away customers if we don't act now," Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano told 10 News.
"So rather than kick the can down the road, it's our job to make sure we have the facilities to allow tourism to grow -- not only in our community, but our state."
But there's more. The new people mover line includes a stop at the economy parking garages. So if you want to save a few bucks and park there, you'll no longer have to wait for a shuttle bus to drive you to the terminal.And the station at the end of the monorail line is open-ended.
If Tampa ever gets together and builds a passenger rail system -- an above-ground subway in the city -- the airport tram can be extended right down to the Westshore Business District, to connect to the bigger rail system.
The new tram line and rental car center will start construction during this coming Spring and should start whisking you away less than four years from now.
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