RDU International is running out of space. A 23 percent increase in passenger traffic last year made RDU the second-fastest growing airport in the country, and there is no sign the growth is slowing down.
"Terminal A is very crowded," says airport spokesperson Mike Blanton. "During peak travel times, the terminal just simply cannot handle the number of people that we've experienced over the last couple of years."
The solution to the crunch lies in a new terminal, but it will take seven years to build one. For now, the airport is working on turning a former cargo area into a temporary terminal, at a cost of $14 million.
The temporary terminal will be connected to terminal A by a walkway. By the time it is finished, in about a year, it will provide five additional gates.
The gates will eventually flip flop to the roadside to make way for the permanent 12- to 15-gate expansion.
In the meantime, passengers should pay close attention to the signs of growth.
"There will be a lot of construction barrels, a lot of shifts in the traffic patterns, and there will be a lot of temporary signage on the curb and in the terminal area," Blanton says.
Airport officials hope to make the most use out of limited space with special terminal equipment.
They are looking into installing a system which would allow small airlines to share the same computers, software and space. The new system could also attract more of these smaller airlines, increasing competition and possibly bringing down prices.