line of men cutting blue ribbon
State officials at a June 30, 2022 ribbon cutting ceremony (courtesy of the Connecticut Airport Authority)

State officials celebrated Thursday the completion of a new rental car and transit center at Bradley International Airport designed to eliminate the need for travelers to take a bus from terminals to their rented vehicles.

The $210 million Ground Transportation Center was funded in part by bonding, which is expected to be paid back through user fees imposed on car rentals. Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, said rental car agencies would transition to the new center on July 13. 

The new 1.4-million-square-foot facility will also add about 850 new parking spots and expand access to in-demand covered parking areas, Dillon said.

“You’ll no longer have to take a bus to get to your rental car,” Dillon said during a televised ribbon-cutting ceremony. “That’s a huge environmental savings as well as a customer service improvement. We’re going to be eliminating about a quarter million bus trips, again, a huge environmental plus.”

Stephen Blum, a senior vice president at rental car company Hertz, said the new facility would speed up services for travelers flying into Connecticut. 

“Customers can go directly to their rental car company’s counter and get on their way quickly,” Blum said. “Really, rental car customers are interested in speed so that’s a great benefit of this facility’s design.”

State officials including Gov. Ned Lamont broke ground on the new facility back in 2019, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, Lamont praised the project’s managers for completing the facility on-time despite the public health crisis. 

“This airport is doing so well,” Lamont said. “We have more direct destinations today than we had pre-COVID and we continue to grow.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said the new facility would benefit the state by improving the first impressions of travelers and businesses considering moving to Connecticut. 

“This is an experience that will be as good or better than any other experience that an economic development officer, a CEO, a marketing director for a company is experiencing across the state,” Murphy said. “I just think this is going to pay immediate dividends when it comes to marketing this state.”