RDU Expands New Terminal Project

Posted December 8, 2006 10:58 a.m. EST

— After months of research and discussion, the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority decided Thursday to completely demolish the existing Terminal C and build an entirely new structure.

The authority voted to spend an extra $140 million to tear down the existing south concourse, which was to have remained largely intact. Under the original $430 million plan, only the north concourse was to be demolished and replaced, with modifications being made to the south concourse. Terminal C was built in 1987.

The number of additional ticketing, security checkpoint and baggage claim areas being added will remain the same as under the original plan, according to Mindy Hamlin, the marketing and communications manager for the airport.

An additional 3,000 square feet will be added to the new Terminal C building, upping the total to 893,000.

However, a new south concourse will provide many additional features, such as a wider passenger area and new, flexible gates for use with a variety of aircraft, Hamlin said.

“What this allows us to do is provide a consistent rebuild of the terminal, and another benefit in doing it now is that our general contractor is able to acquire the materials now so costs will be the same,” she said.

A new south concourse also will include new jetways that can be changed to accommodate jets of different sizes. “That’s a key today since airlines can change aircraft from one day to the next,” Hamlin said.

The authority decided to approve the additional work after receiving required approval from the Local Governments Commission on Wednesday to sell bonds that will cover the cost of the project.

Members of the airport staff also had been working since early this year on details of what a new south concourse would require and had been negotiating with Archer Western, the general contractor. The staff told the Authority the additional cost would be $99 million. Other related expenses will increase the total to $140 million, according to Hamlin.

The authority’s decision was not unexpected once the staff report was received.

“Earlier in the year when they awarded the contract for the construction of the north concourse, the authority signaled its intention to move ahead with the south concourse if it was financially feasible,” Hamlin said. The authority had set a ceiling cost of $125 million, which the staff estimate beat by $26 million, she added.

The project will be paid for by a $4.50 per enplaned passenger fee plus airport revenues and federal grants. The fee was originally imposed in 2003 at $3 and raised to $4.50 in 2004.

The terminal will open in phases, beginning in 2008, and when completed, it will have 32 gates, three ticketing islands, 60 airline check-in counters, 10 security checkpoint lanes and five carousels for baggage.