Sunday, August 29, 2004

Press Room

Jeff Vanke’s commentary on WCHL: , “RDU Boondoggle,” July 23, 2004

RDU press release, March 18, 2004: (images)
Does this convince you of the need to spend $350 million?

Fact Sheet

The RDU Airport Authority is scheduled to demolish the under-utilized Terminal C, in order to rebuild it, for a cost of at least $350 million. Airport officials offer weak justifications, such as an eventual need for more security lines, and the need to ease passenger flow within the terminal.

Demolition is scheduled to start around December 2004. The situation is urgent.

The consequences of such a project:
- $350 million or more in increased airport parking fees;
- many more years of unseemly airport construction and inconvenience;
- substantial environmental toll in landfill consumption and construction exhaust;
- increased burden on area construction capacity, applying upward pressure on construction costs across the Triangle.

How does the Airport Authority justify this boondoggle for Triangle construction companies?
According to airport and project officials, this is supposed to fill a need for:
- curbside check-in (which the Terminal already has);
- 10 security lines, instead of 2-3 (which could be obtained by widening the hallway in question, at that point in the future when it would be needed);
- easing passenger flow (which is already about as easy in Terminal C as in any airport facility many of us have used in this country or elsewhere);
- improved aesthetics (take a look).
These claims can be found at:

This last link demonstrates how remarkably similar the reconstructed terminal’s footprint would be to the old one, thereby highlighting the redundancy of the whole project.

Who is the Airport Authority?
Eight members are appointed two each by the cities of Durham and Raleigh, and by Durham and Wake Counties. Airport Authority Chair Tim Clancy runs his own construction company (Triangle Business Journal article above).

Save RDU !!! And save its users.

The construction businessman who runs the airport wants to knock down Terminal C and rebuild it, at our expense, starting this December. For no good reason. The situation is urgent.

This means $350 million in much higher parking fees, a figure that might well rise to half a billion dollars or more.

This means many years of construction and gross inconvenience to airport users, making our area less attractive to new employers.

This means a great environmental scourge, in landfill space for the old terminal, and in added construction and transportation exhaust to our already challenged air quality – another drag on the Triangle’s attractiveness and quality of life.

This means an enormous burden on regional construction capacity, which will increase construction costs across the greater Triangle – yet another burden on the local business climate.

How does the Airport Authority justify this boondoggle for Triangle construction companies?

Expansion project architect, Thom Walsh, told the Triangle Business Journal, “The new design allows passengers that are not checking bags to bypass the ticketing counters and proceed directly to security” (March 1, 2004). Check – we already have that service! We don’t need to spend $350 million on that.

Airport Authority Chairman Tim Clancy claims that one day the terminal might need 10 security lines, instead of 2-3 at present. Well, one day it might. And then that hallway could be widened, without having to knock down the whole terminal.

It turns out, Clancy is also president of Clancy & Theys Construction Company. We need airport consumers running the airport, not airport builders and suppliers. This is a massive conflict of interest.

Who is the Airport Authority?

Actually, the consumers theoretically do run the airport. The eight-person Authority has two members each appointed by Wake and Durham Counties, and the cities of Raleigh and Durham. (Clancy is one of Raleigh’s appointees.) All the members are listed on RDU’s website:

How can we save ourselves from this?

We need:
To get organized,
To get attention, and
To get the supervisory political bodies to intervene before the wrecking ball first swings.

Activism is especially important from residents of Durham and Wake Counties, some of them in their dual capacity as residents of Durham or Raleigh, respectively, to apply political pressure from the constituencies behind the Airport Authority.

If you have ideas or information that you think will be helpful to our cause, even just to fill in some gaps on this website, please send them ahead! yahoo dot com, name jvanke