At today's special RDUAA Board meeting, potential "Terminal I Expansion" was presented. RDUAA staff said they would study further, but anticipated coming back to the Board around April to ask proceed to move forward to expand T1 to accommodate more gates (than planned in the Vision 2040 Plan).
The current Vision 2040 Airport Layout Plan (ALP) calls for a 4-gate expansion at T1 (the terminal on the east side closest to Umstead State Park) and 19 more gates at T2 (terminal on the west side). And, consideration of lengthening the eastern runway closest to Umstead State Park only AFTER relocation of the western runway (and then, perhaps not at al).
FYI, the planned 4 additional gates at T1 are being constructed and plan to open by around April of this year. That will enable some gates to open up at T2.
RDU's presentation on January 27, 2020 suggested that a MAJOR change be considered to ADD ADDITIONAL 9 to 16 or more gates to T1. Essentially this would mean that ALL the number of planned additional gates in the Vision 2040 plan be pushed to T1 ! (with concurrent terminal sq-footage expansion).
The RDU Staff shared three driving factors that they think merit this major change in the ALP:
1) Enplanements (the number of passengers getting on planes) is exceeding the forecast estimates. However, the planes are getting larger, carrying more passengers per plane, as well as other factors, so they are estimating the needed gates through modeling. FYI, the time of day that requires the most gates is mid-afternoon. (the maximum flights are early morning, but the planes have 'slept' at RDU and don't take much gate occupancy time).
2) T2 gate increase would not occur until about 8 years (5 years to relocate runway to the west, and another 2 to 3 for gate expansion).
3) While gate expansion occurs in T2, it will take away useful gates during construction (the gate expansion can be phased which will minimize, but not eliminate this problem)
I have MAJOR concerns with this proposal because it would push much MORE aircraft traffic on the east side closest to Umstead State Park. It may also encourage an unnecessary lengthening of the runway closest to Umstead State Park. I believe this massive number of gate expansion of T1 before T2 is expanded (8 years will be here pretty soon) should be severely limited as per the current ALP. Note, the ALP was recently "Conditionally approved" by FAA in the spring of 2018. There are ways to make gate usage more efficient, and to the credit of RDUAA, they are implementing some of them.
The RDUAA staff told their Board today that they will continue to talk with the airlines, run models, and evaluate their options. I urge RDUAA to evaluate options that prioritize LIMITING the number of gate expansion in the Terminal closest to Umstead State Park. Thanks to David Morgan who requested outreach to the public during this evaluation process.
Written by Dr. Jean Spooner, Chair, The Umstead Coalition
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