RALEIGH — The habits of thousands of Triangle commuters and travelers are about to change. In a month, theD.O.T.will close almost all of Aviation Parkway.
The heavily used road runs along the west side ofRDU International. A new road will go in its place, and the switch isn't going to be easy for airport traffic.
Many people use Aviation Parkway once a year right around Thanksgiving, the airport's busiest travel weekend. Dealing with a new route could mean headaches.
The new Aviation Parkway, an extension that runs right from I-540 to RDU International, will open a month from now and replace the current Aviation Parkway, which will be closed. RDU looks at this as a mixed blessing because of the timing.
"One of the things we're hoping for was the addition of another lane in front of Terminal A as part of our parking deck construction. But, because of delays, that's not going to happen. We were not prepared completely for Aviation Parkway to be closed prior to the Thanksgiving holiday ," said RDU spokesman Mike Blanton.
The new Aviation Parkway is supposed to be completed between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the contractors are running six months ahead of schedule, and the D.O.T. will not delay the project.
There are also several reasons why the old Aviation Parkway cannot remain open, principally the fact that RDU has plans for the land it sits on.
"One of the things contained in our long range plans is the addition of another 10,000 foot runway which would parallel the 10,000 foot runway that was built in 1986. That new runway will probably be 10 to 15 years out from now, but it will indeed be constructed right on top of where the old Aviation Parkway is now." said Blanton.
The new Aviation Parkway will be a little under 2 miles long and will cost between $12 million and $13 million.
To try to limit the confusion this change will create, RDU will put a number of signs out to warn drivers. And in light of this, the airport stresses for people to try to arrive at the airport extra early for their flights this Thanksgiving.