Future building opportunities at RDU

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by John Brantley, Airport Director
Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority

Now that Terminal 2 is fully operational, the thought in some quarters is “I guess they’re finally finished building things at RDU.” Not so fast there. There aren’t many infrastructure components whose development or redevelopment is ever finished, and airports, especially the larger ones, are near the head of the line in continuous building.

During 2011, several sizable projects will be moving forward at RDU. An early step to vacate and close down the main part of Terminal 1 and ready it for full scale renovation will get underway in May as soon as jetBlue moves to Terminal 2 and Air Tran, which is being acquired by Southwest, moves in with that carrier in the north section of Terminal 1. Contractor bids on the renovation work will be taken late in the year, and that work will begin in early 2012 with the expectation of completion in the second half of 2013.

Rehabilitation of the pavement on the north half of one of the long runway’s two parallel taxiways and additional airfield lighting improvements will begin in the summer and should be completed before the year’s end. Expansion of the Authority’s administration building also will be moving toward a construction start in early 2012. Pavement, drainage and building systems rehabilitation or repair in many parts of the airport, several components of which are large in their own right, will begin in mid-spring and extend through the fall.

Beyond these works, the Airport Authority envisions beginning development of a consolidated car rental facility, termed a “Conrac”, early in the second half of the decade. A Conrac brings all car rental and support activity together in one location with a single customer service facility. The customers of all agencies are transported between the terminals and the Conrac on buses without agency identification since every agency’s customers get on and off at the same points. Planning for this facility is underway as an element of a study to identify the best uses of airport property that either can’t be developed or isn’t needed for aviation use other than airport protection.

The land use study considers that in the future the Airport Authority may elect to develop some areas of airport property for commercial uses that aren’t aviation-based. The initial step in that direction was taken with Aviation Station at the intersection of Aviation Parkway and National Guard Drive. The Sheetz fuel station/convenience store and an upcoming fast food restaurant there are the first of what may be a number of such commercial and other non-aviation uses developed over many years.

Since development, operation and maintenance of the airport are supported by fees and charges for its use, not by local taxes, developing other revenue sources will be important in keeping RDU well-suited to serve the region’s future aviation needs. Many airports do not move forward with needed development unless and until grants of federal and/or state funds can be obtained to cover most of the cost of the work. We believe that when work needs to be done, we need to be getting it done and to have already generated the resources to do it. We generate those resources by managing our business well and maintaining a quality customer service attitude among our staff members so customers want to do business with RDU.

RDU is a much different airport today than it was a third of a century ago when I came. It reflects the product of the talents and efforts of many people to provide our region an airport which always serves them well and of which they can be proud. We’ve worked hard to do that, and I believe we’ve succeeded to a very great extent. A true course has been charted and a great airport built which the Airport Authority will be able to readily continue improving even more as the needs of the region evolve. So don’t ever believe building things at RDU is finished.

If you are interested in pursuing a business relationship with RDU click Here. Article originally printed in the Spring edition of RDU Update. Reprint permission granted by the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority.

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