Raleigh-Durham International Airport has many masters, including local governments and no less than the Federal Aviation Administration, and so CEO Michael Landguth is facing no mean feat as he steers the airport’s governing body, the RDU Airport Authority, in planning for the next quarter century.
Some of Landguth’s plans are no surprise. The region is growing, traffic (meaning air traffic) at the airport has been increasing, and the FAA requires of airports certain things in exchange for federal funding. (Although it seems RDU hasn’t been getting an adequate share of that money.)
So in Vision 2040, Landguth and the authority show plans for a new, 10,000-foot runway, more gates, better parking facilities, a consolidated rental car facility and better roadways in the terminal areas.
The plan seems logical, and tries to meet those FAA requirements. In an interview with editors of The News & Observer about the plan, Landguth said he and others have been working with members of the state’s congressional delegation to try to get more of that federal money.
Never miss a local story.
But the 4,800-acre RDU site appears set to prosper. As might have been expected, one potential controversy lies in the future of the Lake Crabtree area, where bikers and hikers have long and ardently supported the idea of what some of them have called an “oasis” of greenery and water.
RDU could sell the area to Wake County, but as Landguth said it would have to be a fair market value, to meet the needs of the airport to build and expand and provide what the FAA requires. Trades for Umstead Park land have been proposed. Airport officials insist nothing drastic is going to happen in the Lake Crabtree Country Park area anytime soon. But bikers and hikers and for that matter families who come to the area just to picnic or walk around have a passionate concern about the area’s future.
To its credit, RDU isn’t running some secretive campaign here. To expand, the airport has to have money. Having developments such as hotels would provide revenue for expansion.
Should Wake County officials seriously consider buying some of the park land? The idea sounds expensive, but it shouldn’t be foreclosed.
The vision plan for RDU seems logical, and in many ways, it’s following the growth of the region. The challenges seem to be in proceeding with the vision while not losing sight of environmental and recreational concerns of citizens worried about maintaining a certain quality of life here on the ground.