Local News

RDU official: Terminal construction reaches economic 'milestone'

Posted August 7, 2009 10:28 a.m. EDT
Updated August 7, 2009 5:50 p.m. EDT

— Crews put in place the highest beam Friday in a new concourse that Raleigh-Durham International Airport officials hope will be an economic anchor for the region.

Workers hoisted the beam up 40 feet, where it is the highest structural piece in what will be the central atrium of Terminal 2's south concourse.

"This is a milestone for the region. Economic development depends on a good, strong airport," said Robb Teer, chairman of the RDU Airport Authority.

Workers signed the beam during a "topping-out" ceremony, a modern take on the tradition of barn-raisings and house-warmings carried by immigrants to America.

The 370,000-square-foot concourse is being built in the second phase of construction of Terminal 2. The structural steel skeleton has been finished, as have a canopy and mast that will be the concourses' architectural signatures. The mast is 90 feet tall.

The curved beams of the atrium's roof represent the wings of an aircraft. They will eventually support a suspended art work called Triplet, which features wood masts tipped with dichroic glass and LED lighting.

When it opens in early 2011, the new wing will house 17 gates and 15 restaurants and shops and serve US Airways and Continental Airlines.

"Everything's on schedule. Everything's on budget," said Dan Walsh, president of Archer Western Contractors. "Our relationship with our owner, the (RDU) Airport Authority, has been excellent."

At a time of record unemployment, 250 construction workers, mostly local, have been working on the airport project, Walsh said. As many as 500 will be on the job as work ramps up in the next few months.

"This is a good economic thing for our region," Teer said.