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RDU expansion plans met with resistance from cyclists

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RDU's plans could mean removing popular trails and green spaces (WTVD)

Raleigh-Durham International Airport is moving forward with plans that would enhance and expand the airport over the next 25 years. A master plan is close to being complete, but it's being met with resistance because it could remove popular green space areas.

At a rally in opposition to the development plan Sunday, a 9-year-old boy was handed a microphone and stood in front of dozens of people inside a Cary restaurant. He explained to the crowd why he's upset with the RDU Vision 2040 plan.

"Crabtree [Park] was one of my greatest experiences," said Will Alexander. "Seeing RDU take it away is just horrible for people who love the outdoors."

The expansion includes redeveloping land east of Aviation Parkway, and north and south of I-40.

Some of the land would be developed for office space or hotels while other areas would be for aviation support or industrial development.

A major reason for the resistance to the plan are the trails which are on much of the land. Thousands of cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts use the green space.

"It seems really unnecessary," said plan opponent Keith Alexander. "You need green space. You cannot recreate what we have right now."

Folks against the plan vented their frustrations at Sunday's gathering.

"We feel it's not a sound long term-term option for our community property," said Umstead Coalition Chair Dr. Jean Spooner.

"You can't go back once you start building there...there's no going back," said Keith Alexander.

RDU does own the land in question. According to its website, RDU began leasing to Wake County to be used a park in 1985.

"Within the terms of the agreement, we can terminate the lease if the land needs to be used to support aeronautical purposes, in accordance with our federal obligations," RDU writes.

The airport plans on finalizing its master plan by the end of the year. Comments about the plan can be submitted on RDU's website.

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