Raleigh-Durham International Airport will soon kick off a multi-year capital improvement program that will bring a reconstructed runway, a new consolidated rental car facility and parking renovations to the airport in response to passenger growth.
And the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority’s proposed budget reflects this shift, as design and construction for many of the planned projects begins in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins April 1, RDU spokesman Andrew Sawyer said. The airport authority, an eight-member board, will vote on the proposed budget Thursday.
The $175 million budget projects a 19.6 percent increase in operating income and a 17.5 percent rise in operating expenses, which will help pay for new projects and the additional staff needed as more customers travel to and from RDU. The airport plans to add 41 positions to its staff of about 300.
RDU expects a 6.8 percent increase in passengers this coming fiscal year. In 2016, the airport broke its record for the most passengers in a year when more than 11 million people traveled to and from RDU.
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RDU officials looked at how to handle growth at the airport during an 18-month master planning process, called Vision 2040. The airport authority approved the product of these efforts – a 25-year master plan – in October. Sawyer said now that the planning process is largely completed, this year’s focus will be on implementing the projects in the plan.
“This year is all about laying the foundation for the projects that are to come,” Sawyer said. “We’re setting the stage for the future.”
The most significant project for the airport is the $280 million relocation and reconstruction of the longest runway, known as 5L-23R, on the western side of the airport in the next three to five years before it reaches the end of its useful life.
The runway will be built parallel to the existing one, which will be turned into a taxiway, but work can’t begin until the Federal Aviation Administration approves the airport’s 25-year master plan. That approval is needed to receive federal funding for the project.
RDU officials also expect to begin planning the new $200 million consolidated rental car facility, which would be between terminals 1 and 2, adjacent to the parking garage, putting rental cars within walking distance of the terminals.
“We are putting in motion our plans for the future to better connect people to the places that matter most,” Sawyer said. “This is the start.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon