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Jerry Orr Provides Update on Airport Activities

(February 22, 2002) Charlotte's aviation director, Jerry Orr, spoke at the Steele Creek Residents Association annual meeting on February 21.

Charlotte-Douglas Airport expansion will have a major impact on the local community. The airport currently is acquiring almost 1,500 acres of land between the current airport property and the new I-485 where it plans to build an additional runway and an intermodal facility. The airport is obligated to pay for new road construction to replace thoroughfares it closes. West Boulevard will be relocated to the south, generally to the current location of Byrum Drive, and it will continue west to the interchange currently under construction at Garrison Road and I-485. A new road also will be built to the west of I-485 from the West Boulevard extension north to Walkers Ferry Road. This will replace Dixie Road and Wallace Neel Road, which now are located where the new runway will be built.

The airport also hopes that a new access road will be built from the airport terminal north to connect to the I-85 interchange at Little Rock Road.

The intermodal facility would allow easy transfer of goods from airplanes to rail or trucks. The facility would be built at the southwestern corner of the airport property near the West Boulevard interchange at I-485. A rail spur would be built from the Norfolk-Southern tracks at the north edge of the airport to the new facility.

Airline passenger traffic has been down since September 11, along with revenues for food concessions, parking, rental cars, and taxis. The airport also will have additional security costs, which will amount to over $800,000 for 2002.

Residents were eager to discuss airport noise, which is an unfortunate byproduct of airport operations. Orr said that the airport has spent $64 million for noise reduction, including buying 450 homes and insulating over 11,000 homes and several schools and churches.