Visitors to Miami International Airport will soon be picking up their rental cars in a new state of the art $305 million, 3.4 million square foot Rental Car Center (RCC). This facility is the first major structure of the Miami Intermodal Center, a massive ground transportation hub being developed by the Florida Department of Transportation. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for today.

While all the major rental companies are currently represented at the airport, with counters inside the baggage claim area, you must then take each company’s courtesy shuttle to an off-site location to pick up your vehicle. Once the new RCC begins operation on July 13th, a consolidated shuttle will take arriving passengers to the new facility directly adjacent to the airport.

This is a massive improvement over the mess that is the current car rental situation at this major South Florida airport. Previously we recommended that you leave plenty of time coming and going in MIA (everything here takes longer than it should), or even fly into Ft Lauderdale instead. With the opening of the new RCC, Miami becomes a somewhat more palatable option.

The consolidated shuttle will be an interim solution. A new automated light-rail system dubbed "MIA Mover" will eventually transport passengers between the main terminal and the RCC, thus eliminating the shuttle buses completely--hurray! The system is currently under construction and expected to be operational in 2011.

The new RCC has four levels, each 20 acres in size (3.4 million square feet). The first three floors are dedicated to storage and maintenance operations, and the fourth level will accommodate a spacious customer service lobby. There is space for a total of 20 rental car companies and 6,500 total vehicles. The RCC houses the first multilevel fueling system in the United States.

The other component of the Intermodal Center will be the Miami Central Station, a ground transportation hub for Miami-Dade County and the South Florida region. The station will be connected to the RCC and the MIA Mover via elevated pedestrian walkways. It will provide connectivity to Tri-Rail, Metrorail and Amtrak rail service, as well as access to bus lines, taxis, shuttles and private parking. The anticipated opening date is in 2013.

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