CLEARWATER, Fla. (FOX 13) - As we head into spring break season, Bay Area airports are getting ready to welcome crowds of sun-seeking visitors. But if you're flying in or out of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE), there are some traffic changes and lot closures to be aware of.
Your best bet in the coming months is to arrive nice and early.
One of the big changes takes effect this week. Starting early Thursday morning, drivers will enter and exit the airport in a new, permanent location with a new traffic signal.
It's located farther south, on Roosevelt Boulevard, near the air traffic control tower.
Direct access from 46th street to Airport Parkway will no longer be available. Visitors will have to use the new main entrance.
Airport parking is affected, too. Right now, the ground transportation and short term lots are temporarily closed. Ground transportation and hotel shuttle providers will pick up passengers in front of the terminal. Drivers awaiting passenger pickup should use the cell phone or long term lots.
Economy lots are still open. To access Key Lime PIE Economy Lot and Airport Employee Lots, turn onto 144th Avenue. The Strawberry PIE Economy Lot will only be accessible from internal roads, by taking Airport Parkway to Fairchild Drive.
The airport construction is connected to FDOT's $580 million Gateway Expressway Project. The project includes the creation of two new four-lane elevated tolled roadways, providing direct connections between U.S. 19 and I-275, as well as the Bayside Bridge and I-275. That project is expected to be done by summer 2022.
"Just allow yourself a little extra time," said Michelle Routh, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport Spokesperson. "If you're parking and you're going to use the economy parking lot, the shuttles might take a little longer because the roads are changing."
Routh continued, "Traffic guys are directing, we have signage, so, we hope it'll be easy, but, a little extra time goes a long way."