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Construction on New RDU Terminal Taking Off

Raleigh-Durham International Airport showed off progress on its new terminal Friday while celebrating a safety milestone in the $570 million project.

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MORRISVILLE — Raleigh-Durham International Airport showed off progress on its new terminal Friday while celebrating a safety milestone in the $570 million project.

The north concourse of the new terminal, which replaces the red-roofed Terminal C, is expected to open next summer, followed by the south concourse in late 2010. RDU officials said the two concourses will encompass 900,000 square feet – three times the size of the former terminal – and will accommodate about 11 million passengers a year.

"It will give us more room to grow," RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said. "Terminal A is overcrowded. When we do open the new terminal, we will have more gates (and) more flexibility. That will offer opportunities to airlines to either build out service here at RDU or for new airlines to come in."

Passenger traffic is up about 7 percent for the year, and RDU officials project about 10 million travelers will pass through the airport this year.

Terminal C was built in 1987 as a hub for American Airlines and was designed primarily for passengers changing planes. But with the demise of American's hub, officials said less than 5 percent of RDU's passengers now change planes at the airport.

The new terminal will feature 20 check-in counters and dozens of electronic kiosks for self-check-in, 10 security checkpoint lines for faster screening, an expanded baggage claim area and about 50 restaurants and shops for travelers waiting to take off, officials said.

The 32 gates in the terminal – six more than the old Terminal C – will be flexible enough to handle a variety of aircraft, Hamlin said. Delta Airlines will be the first to occupy the new terminal next year, followed by Northwest Airlines, Continental Airlines and USAirways.

Southwest Airlines, AirTran Airways, JetBlue and Express Jet will remain in Terminal A.

Ken Atkins, Wake County economic development director, said a thriving airport is one aspect of luring new business to the region.

"People often make their first impression of an area with what they see first, and it's many times our airport," Atkins said. "It's all a part of that image. It's all a part of talking about who we are and where we are in a global marketplace."

Traveler Gigi Secky said Friday that she was unimpressed by her visit to Terminal A.

"I would say, first impressions, I have been in nicer airports, certainly," Secky said. "(It's) nothing terribly impressive. You know, it's adequate."

Hamlin said Terminal A will undergo its own makeover after 2010, when it will be redesigned to resemble the other terminal.

"Terminal A was never planned to be a permanent terminal," she said. "When we get to the end of this project, we'll turn our focus on Terminal A."

Meanwhile, Archer Western Contractors, the general contractor in charge of the new terminal received a safety award Friday after workers completed 1 million hours with no injuries resulting in days off. The more than 300 construction workers on the project also received injury-prevention training at a safety fair.


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