Save RDU

Guest Post by Jeff Vanke

Orange County relies on RDU Airport, although only Durham and Wake County citizens have a say in its operations. The Airport Authority, including more than one construction magnate, is planning to knock down Terminal C and rebuild it. The cost is $350 million, to be paid in increased parking fees. Demolition is slated to begin around December. The situation is urgent.

Justifications range from the need for expansion, to a desire to enhance passenger flow. Further commentary and a solicitation for help is available at my one-issue blog:

Please consider swamping newspapers with letters, and encouraging your friends in Durham and Wake Counties to hound their elected officials, who appoint the Airport Authority members.

Jeff Vanke is a native of Durham County. He lives in Carrboro with his wife and son, where he is a full-time father and a half-time Associate Professor online at Kaplan College.


I noticed that they were proposing this a while back and that it would be a phased in construction so the terminal would stay open while they re-construct in pieces. I have to admit, the design they chose seems a great improvement over the warehouse syle they've chosen to construct so far. Still, I also wonder whether the $350 million could be better used. How much extra was it going to cost to connect the airport to the new TTA line? Wasn't it $85 million, a fraction of the cost of this upgrade to the airport? Wouldn't it make more sense to provide better public transit to the airport, before ridership goes up again and the parking at the airport becomes inundated?

So Jeff, I guess I would suggest that the airport does need upgrades, but I would agree that the priorities they have are misplaced... seems like public transit to me would be a much higher priority right now than renovating/expanding terminals - and it would cost the airport a lot less.

The number I have always read to
build a rail line spur from the about-
to-start phase I of the TTA rail line
was about $500 million, with half
paid by the Feds, one-quarter paid
by the state, and one-quarter paid
by yet-unidentified local sources.
Unfortunately, the RDU management
has not favored a rail line, presumably
because they need people to park in
the new decks in order to pay the
debt service on the bonds that were
sold to contruct the deck. So financially, RDU works against itself
with a rail line -- how tragic. We can
take a bus from CH to RDU, but
it is quite inefficient and of course
gets stuck in the same I-40 traffic
that everyone else does. I'm afraid
it will take a major sea change to
get an efficient, traffic-bypassing
rail line from CH to RDU.....Sigh!


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