Sunday, August 29, 2004

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:
http://triangle.bizjournals.com/triangle/stories/2004/03/01/focus2.html
http://www.rdu.com/News/Releases/release_031804.htm
http://www.rdu.com/AirportProj/terminalc.htm

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?
http://www.rdu.com/AboutRDU/aboutRDU.htm
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).

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do think that you have a good point on the subject. I don't think that they should be tearing down Terminal C just to build a similar terminal.
But I do think that I would be much more angry if they wanted to tear down Terminal A, seeing it's history. I believe that it was the original Terminal, but renovated.I do agree that there will be some unseemly airport contruction, (which I do not enjoy. The airport is busy enough without the construction.)
Although it would be a bad project, there might not be enough time to change the tables to not doing.

September 13, 2004 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Jeff Vanke said...

You're right that time is short, but it is not too late to bring political pressure to bear. This is especially true in the Durham County Commissioners race. The demolition hasn't started yet....

Terminal B was the original terminal, but it's long since closed to regular passenger traffic. (Some of the U.S. civilian hostages to Saddam Hussein landed there, though, in 1990-91.) Terminal A opened in 1981. It was designed so that if passenger traffic failed to materialize (pre-Terminal C!), it could serve as a hanger instead. Terminal C actually seems much better designed than Terminal A to handle post-9-11 exigencies.

September 13, 2004 at 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction, Terminal A Extension is the original terminal. There wasn't really a Terminal B. When Terminal A was built, the original Terminal A was renamed Terminal A Extension. Terminal B was to be built to the left of where Southwest currently resides, but was never built.

Terminal A is too cramped to do much more for RDU. Terminal C, although newer, is in much worst condition. Terminal A was built for O&D traffic, Terminal C was built for connecting traffic. It doesn't have that function anymore. It must be replaced.

September 15, 2004 at 9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff;

You need to re-visit Terminal A. What was formerly Terminal B (the original 1950's terminal) was closed for a period of time. However, it has been re-opened and in operation for several years now. It is now called Terminal A also and there is no Terminal B. Every gate in Terminal A (from the northern end that used to be Terminal B all the way to the very southern end)is heavily used every day.

As far as the traffic level at RDU, the most recent data shows that use has increased such that more passengers are passing through RDU now than pre 9/11.

Also, you obviously don't travel on business and have to wait 45 min. or more to get through security - this is the case nearlt every morning from 6-9 AM.

Yes, it is a lot of money, and I don't like paying more in taxes than anyone else, but major improvements are needed. Airport construction is always difficult and expensive. I read someplace that in the early stages of this project, a study was done that showed it would be just as costly and less effective to renovate the existing building.

Also, before you attack Tim Clancy, do your homework. Yes, he is the president of a construction company - but his company has no where near the capacity or resources to handle a project of this magnitude.

September 15, 2004 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger Jeff Vanke said...

Some of these anonymous comments are using terms and arguments like "regionalism" that echo themes in RDU's own press releases. Hmmm. Critics who fail to identify themselves in a traceable way lack credibility.

September 15, 2004 at 10:23 PM  
Blogger Jeff Vanke said...

I have no specific reason to suspect Clancy or Teer or anyone else. But I think one reason for this overkill solution is because multiple Authority members come from construction backgrounds, as opposed to say interior design backgrounds.

Big projects usually have a multitude of contractors and subcontractors and sub-subcontractors.

September 16, 2004 at 9:34 AM  

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