The Massachusetts Port Authority is looking to add 5,000 parking spaces at Logan Airport and build a covered walkway to the MBTA Blue Line as it copes with congestion from a surge in travelers.
Massport chief executive Thomas Glynn described the plans as preliminary and likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, although no formal cost analysis has been conducted yet. Glynn, in an interview with The Boston Globe Tuesday, said the changes are in response to an influx of travelers at Logan, which served 31.6 million passengers in 2014, up 4.7 percent from the year prior.
A moving walkway to the Airport T station is part of a proposal to expand the international terminal, which is undergoing a separate $100 million renovation slated to be finished at the end of 2016. The expansion was disclosed in a state filing earlier this month.
Logan has added nonstop flights to 30 international destinations since 2006 and now offers service to 51 airports around the world. The new flights — to places like Mexico City, Istanbul, and Hong Kong — have created periodic bottlenecks in the US Customs and Border Protection processing areas.
Massport expects the Terminal E expansion to help ease the congestion with a larger processing area and seven additional gates. The plan must be approved by state environmental regulators and the Federal Aviation Administration to break ground in 2017.
The current renovation includes wider jet bridges to accommodate larger planes and updated holding areas and baggage-screening facilities.
“If people start having bad experiences when they land, the airlines will not be as excited about servicing Logan,” Glynn said.
The Massport chief said parking has not kept pace with the increase in passengers, making it difficult for travelers to find spaces during popular travel times.
Massport officials are still floating ideas for places to add the new parking spaces, which would also need to be approved by regulators. Glynn said the agency is considering converting a surface lot in Terminal E into a multifloor garage or adding decks to an economy lot, as well as other possibilities. The spots may be added in different locations, he said.
The biggest hurdle for Massport might be persuading the state to lift a parking cap dating back to the 1970s.
Logan’s current limit is set at 18,415 vehicles, although it only has 16,200 lined spaces. Massport offers valet services during peak travel times, squeezing extra cars in by double parking or moving them to offsite lots. Massport valets more than 2,000 cars a week.
“That’s just not a sustainable model,” he said.
Glynn said the new spaces would offer environmental benefits and reduce the number of vehicle trips to and from the airport. Today travelers often have friends drop them off and pick them up instead of opting to hunt for a spot in an overcrowded lot, he said.
In a notice filed to the state Office of Energy and Environment Affairs this month, Massport said it will have to conduct a thorough environmental analysis of the Terminal E expansion.