FAA approves $500M plan to replace, upgrade RDU's main runway

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BySamantha Kummerer WTVD logo
Tuesday, September 5, 2023
RDU gets closer to major expansion project
The Federal Aviation Administration approved the airport's plan to replace its main runway.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) announced a major win Monday in its efforts to expand: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the airport's plan to replace its main runway.

The greenlight from FAA means the airport can move forward with applying for state and local permits.

The existing runway is around four decades old. The new runway is expected to be around 600 feet longer and will allow for further expansion at the airport, including the addition of more gates.

The $500 million runway is one of many projects airport officials have planned over the next two decades. Expansion to parking and security has already begun but other improvements hinge on the replacement of the main runway.

"The linchpin of all of it is that new runway because it's going to be new, it's going to be longer and they're going to relocate it just a little bit out of the way," explained Joe Milazzo, the executive director of the Regional Transportation Alliance.

Local leaders said the FAA's decision is a win for the entire state.

"If you're growing and if you're going to grow successfully, your infrastructure needs to grow right along with you," Milazzo said.

Milazzo said securing federal funding for this runway has been a top local priority for a while.

"The airport, of course, is very central to the success of this entire extended metropolitan region, while I-40 is the most important road in the Triangle, this is the most important two miles of pavement in the Triangle." Milazzo said. "That primary runway -- we are so excited to see that moving forward. It creates jobs not just at the airport. It allows companies to be successful. That creates opportunity, creates tax revenue and allows more folks to be able to move in here and be successful"

Milazzo said the continual expansion of the airport will bring economic opportunity to the area.

A spokesperson for RDU said there is a "long-term financial plan" to fund its nearly $3 billion for it's Vision 2040 growth plan. Part of that plan includes maximizing bonding capacity. The Airport Authority also is continuing to seek additional federal funding for this and other projects.

The runway replacement is not expected to be completed until 2028.

"The runway is not going to be open tomorrow, but we're on a glide path to success now," Milazzo said.