Local News

RDU Begins Random Vehicle Inspections In Response To Heightened Terror Alert

Posted December 22, 2003

— Gov. Mike Easley said North Carolina is taking all the necessary steps to comply with the nation's heightened terror alert, which was raised to orange on Sunday for the first time since May.

Changes are under way at

Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Officers have been conducting random car inspections at the airport's entrance.

The barrels and barricades were in place along Aviation Parkway, set up the same way and in the same spot as they were the last time the terror alert went from yellow to orange.

"I expected they would raise it," traveler Bob Post said, "especially after catching Saddam Hussein."

Added traveler Tony Moseley: "Same stuff. We've been through it, going to continue to go through it."

Though some passengers saw the changes coming, airport officials do not want delays to catch anyone by surprise. They advise travelers to arrive two-and-half hours earlier than their flight's departure time, noting that the car checks could add 30 minutes to someone's trip.

The traffic reportedly was a mess shortly after the random inspections began. Part of that was because the entrance to the airport from Lumley Road and U.S. 70 has been closed -- forcing people to go through the checkpoints on Aviation Parkway.

Drivers will be able to exit the airport via U.S 70/Lumley Road, but not enter.

Signs inform drivers of the inspection process as they enter the airport.

In addition to vehicle inspections, passengers will see signs advising them to report any unattended packages to airport employees. As always, the Authority will maintain a strong police presence throughout the airport.

"We're asking people to arrive early, to just be patient with the different layers of security," RDU spokeswoman Karen Dunton said.

The increased terror threat has many passengers concerned. But the travelers who spoke to WRAL said the extra security gives them the green light for their travel plans.

"I'm a little jittery," traveler M.G. Moseley said. "But it is a holiday. This is something we're going to have to expect at all times. You never know when, but you always stay on alert, look around. That's the best you can do."

Airport officials also remind travelers that wrapped packages will need to be unwrapped and inspected before they go through security inside the airport. Travelers with Christmas presents are advised to keep the gifts unwrapped until they get to their destination.

Also, travelers can help ease the delays by being ready to take off overcoats and take keys and other objects out of their pockets as they prepare to go through security.

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