Raleigh-Durham International Airport plans to nearly triple the size of one of its parking lots to accommodate an increase in passenger traffic, raising environmental concerns. The construction will increase the lot’s proximity to William B. Umstead State Park.
The parking lot construction is part of its Vision 2040 Master Plan, which is RDU’s 25-year plan for growth.
RDU plans to expand Park Economy 3, a lot that requires shuttle buses to take passengers between the lot and terminals, by an additional 8,700 parking spaces. The lot currently has 3,820 spaces.
Chapel Hill resident Chandra Lovejoy usually uses terminal parking rather than economy lots when she drives to RDU.
“When I do park in the other areas, I do find that it is tough to find parking. So, I think they definitely are going to need to add more parking spaces,” Lovejoy said.
Jean Spooner, chairperson of the Umstead Coalition, said the Park Economy 3 Expansion Project will remove some of the forest buffer around Umstead State Park, impacting stormwater treatment, animal habitats and visitors’ experience in the park.
Tim Aydlett, president of North Carolina Friends of State Parks, echoed Spooner's concerns.
“When you deforest an area, you're increasing light pollution and you're increasing noise pollution,” Aydlett said. “And that's not what our visitors go to Umstead Park to experience.”
Aydlett also said the construction will “infringe” upon Haleys Branch, a stream near RDU.