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RDU Ready for More Holiday Travel Without More Parking

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RALEIGH — They are part of the holidays just as much as decorations, parties and good food. They are the travel delays, especially those people trying to get somewhere by air. This year is no exception -- a crowd of more than 300,000 fellow flyers will make its way through Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Still handicapped by parking deck construction delays, officials atRaleigh-Durham International Airportsay they are prepared for a packed house.

"I think its a safe statement to make that it will be a record this year," says RDU spokesman Mike Blanton. "Our passenger traffic from calendar year 1998 to 1999 is running at 23 percent above what it was last year."

Despite the record numbers, however, travelers cannot use the long overdue $42-million, 2700-space parking deck.

Even without the deck, Blanton says the new lanes in front of Terminal A and a newly paved and expanded Park and Ride Lot 4 made for a relatively smooth Thanksgiving travel time.

To beat the crowds, travelers Bobbie Mendenhall and Connie Sercy always travel the week before Christmas.

"Oh yeah, it's terrible," Mendenhall says. "Out here, it will be horrible the end of this week. It will be terrible."

To facilitate parking, airport officials suggest travelers get a ride to RDU. They suggest that if travelers plan to drive, they should also plan to arrive two hours before their flights.

Looking beyond Christmas to New Year's, RDU officials expect all their operations and security will be ready for Y2K. Because of very light bookings, however, officials say many flights may get canceled, and that travelers should keep checking with the airlines about schedule changes. Reporter: Cullen Browder

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