Officials wrapped up an eight-year, $1.5 billion round of construction projects at Charlotte’s airport Monday and promptly kicked off a 10-year, $2.5 billion program that will change the roadway passengers use, the terminal and the airfield itself.
The new construction, starting with work on the airport’s new, eight-lane road in front of the terminal this summer, will cause disruptions for passengers, officials said. The new program comes as the airport completes its new hourly deck and entrance roads, which shifted traffic and caused headaches for travelers.
“Some of the work has been quite frustrating,” said deputy aviation director Jack Christine. “Some of our customers must have felt like we were changing the roads every few weeks just to mess with them.”
But interim aviation director Brent Cagle said Charlotte Douglas International Airport will learn from the past projects and try to minimize problems. “That will be a priority for this construction,” he said.
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Here’s a look at some of the projects Charlotte Douglas is planning for the “Destination CLT” program (Tagline: “We’re building an airport fit for the queen”). All costs will be paid with revenue from the airlines, state and federal grants and concession revenues from the terminal, not local tax dollars.
▪ New roadway in front of the terminal: The airport will build a new, two-level, eight-lane road in front of the terminal, replacing the current three-lane roads for arriving and departing passengers. Five lanes will be for passenger vehicles and three for commercial vehicles, such as cabs and buses. New bridges and tunnels will connect the terminal to the hourly parking decks. Passenger traffic will be shifted from the current lanes to the new lanes in one single move, in an attempt to minimize disruption.
Expected construction start: Summer 2015.
Duration: One year and eight months for the commercial vehicle lanes, two years and three months for the passenger vehicle lanes.
Cost: $40 million.
▪ Terminal lobby expansion: Charlotte’s terminal will be expanded outwards – toward the hourly parking deck – to add more space for security, ticketing and baggage claim. The new terminal lobby will be larger, with windows allowing natural light and a mezzanine level. The airport’s famous Queen Charlotte statue, with the queen doubling over and reaching out, will be moved back to its old spot in front of the hourly parking deck, which will now be inside the terminal.
Expected construction start: 2019.
Duration: Three years.
Cost: $247 million.
▪ Concourse A expansion: Charlotte Douglas plans to build 25 gates in a new satellite terminal north of Concourse A, where the rental cars were formerly located. The project will take place in two phases, with the first bringing nine new gates and the second 16 new gates.
Expected construction start: January 2016.
Duration: 3 1/2 years
Cost: $310 million.
▪ Fourth parallel runway: Plans call for a new, 12,000-foot runway between two existing runways, requiring the rerouting of parts of West Boulevard and Old Dowd Road.
Expected construction start: Spring 2020.
Duration: Two years.
Cost: $422 million.
▪ Other projects will include renovating existing concourses with new flooring to replace carpets, improved lights and ceilings; expanding Concourses B and C; and building a new, 367-foot-tall control tower on the airfield’s south side.
Recently completed projects at the airport include the hourly parking deck, a $120 million facility that includes 4,000 public spaces and 3,000 spaces for rental cars. The airport moved its rental car facilities into the bottom three levels, freeing up the rental car lots for redevelopment. Charlotte Douglas also completed its new entrance roadway this year, realigning Josh Birmingham Parkway and creating a new, direct connection from Interstate 85 to the airport.
Who’s in charge of Charlotte’s airport?
The city owns and operates Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and Charlotte City Council and the city manager are ultimately responsible. That remains unchanged since an effort by Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly to shift control to a new, independent airport authority fizzled. Although it’s technically still up to the Federal Aviation Administration to decide who will ultimately run Charlotte Douglas, Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter said there’s “absolutely no” indication the agency is moving to decide the question. That means City Council will continue to run the airport for the foreseeable future. Ely Portillo