Akron-Canton Airport has completed work to upgrade its parking lots and access to the airport terminal. Now travelers can use covered parking at the airport.

GREEN  An $11 million improvement to the terminal entrance and parking areas at Akron-Canton Airport is finished, leaving one last major project.

Officials noted the project's completion Friday morning with a ribbon cutting ceremony for a $2 million covered parking area. It includes 250 parking spaces that will protect a customer's vehicle from winter snow and summer heat.

The covered parking area was the last piece to the project, which started late in 2015. It included improvements to parking lots near the terminal and a redesign that widened the lanes in front of the terminal and created a new area for dropping off rental cars.

"There were a lot of little pieces to this project," said Rick McQueen, president and chief operating officer at Akron-Canton.

Customers will pay $2 per hour and up to $18 per day to use the covered lot, as compared to $15 per day for other lots. The 65,000 square foot area is covered by a translucent fabric and equipped with LED lighting. Hammontree & Associates designed the structure.

McQueen said airport customers have been asking for covered parking. The airport paid for the structure with its operating reserves.

Work on the terminal's entry roads and parking lots was part of a 10-year plan called CAK 2018 that called for a series of improvements. The last remaining project is to replace older gates on the north end of the terminal.

McQueen said that project has been delayed because of Southwest Airlines' decision earlier this year to end service at Akron-Canton. He hopes that work can begin during the second half of 2018.

Design work for the new gates had started, but the work was put on hold when Southwest made its decision. McQueen said the initial project, estimated at $30 million, would have left Akron-Canton with four unused gates once Southwest left. While the airport wants to have options that would allow it to expand quickly if a new carrier decides serve the facility, it doesn't want to be faced with four empty gates.

Airport officials still want to replace the north end gates, which opened during the early 1960s and were designed for DC-9 airplanes. The gates now are functionally obsolete, McQueen said.

Reach Edd at 330-580-8484 or edd.pritchard@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @epritchardREP