January 20 will be the first day of business at a big new facility in San Diego International Airport that will change things for everyone who rents a car there.
It’s the opening of the new $316 million Consolidated Rental Car Center on the northeast side of the airport grounds, just off Pacific Highway — a location that will give renters easy access to Interstate 5.
The facility will serve as the base of operations for the 14 rental operators serving the airport, including big national brands as well as independents and local firms.
Its opening is expected to mean a big reduction in rental car traffic on North Harbor Drive, the access road from downtown San Diego to the airport terminals. Most of the major rental companies previously had their operations just off that road, immediately southeast of the terminals.
It will also mean fewer shuttle buses moving around the airport, since the individual rental company shuttles will be replaced by a fleet of alternative-fuel buses that will carry all rental car customers between the terminals and the new rental center.
Construction of the new facility started in 2013. It is financed by airport user fees that the rental companies pass along to customers.
Even more changes are in store for the airport in the future; last month, airport officials settled on a design for a massive reconstruction of the facility’s dated Terminal 1 and part of Terminal 2, although that project is still a few years away.
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