RDU shows off its newest terminal

August 28, 2008 5:03:35 PM PDT
Soon RDU Airport officials will have what they have wanted for 20 years -- a signature terminal.

Terminal C is set to give way to the state-of-the art Terminal 2.

Reporters received an early look at the project Thursday.

Major construction on the new terminal is complete, and workers are putting the finishing touches on the interior and the new facility will open in less than two hours.

Terminal 2 is impressive not only in size but also in design. Ticketing agents will be inside islands that can be accessed from all four sides.

Numerous kiosks will enable passengers with electronic tickets to bypass ticket agents.

Best of all, there will be seven security checkpoints which could speed up that process.

"This will give the Transportation Security Administration more space to work with, more lanes to staff," Mindy Hamlin, RDU Airport Authority, explained.

Airport visitors will see aviation themes throughout the new terminal -- from the atrium windows which are wing shaped, to the exposed turnbuckles. Even the signposts have what appear to be stainless steel wings. And the air conditioning ports look like jet engines.

The terminal will feature several retail shops and restaurants, including both local and national chains.

And because the airline industry is volatile, adapting for change was a big part of the construction plan.

"One thing that we kept in mind with this terminal is flexibility,' Hamlin said. "You'll see it's column free. There is a lot of extra space, space for people to walk in, space if we have to move things around."

But with high fuel prices sending airlines into what appears to be a downward tailspin, is it possible the project is too ambitious?

Airport officials say no and that they can always consolidate.

"We can move as many airlines as possible from Terminal A to Terminal 2," Hamlin said. "Our goal all along is that this terminal will be our primary terminal and will meet the needs of the region today and in the future."

Possibly the best news of all is whether Terminal 2 takes wing or crashes, the $570 million bill will be paid for by travelers, not state and local taxpayers.

You can get a closer look at phase one of the new terminal on Saturday, October 11 -- two weeks before the facility opens for business. The second phase of the terminal is expected to open in 2011.


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