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RDU Airport breaks ground on new runway

Raleigh Durham Airport officials at a Oct 2023 groundbreaking ceremony of a new runway. Airport CEO Michael Landguth is the first person on the right.
Courtesy of Raleigh-Durham International Airport
The Raleigh-Durham International Airport's new runway 5-Left/23-Right replaces a 10,000-foot concreate landing strip built in the 1980s, which is starting to show signs of wear and tear.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport broke ground Wednesday on a new primary runway, which airport officials call “the most important two miles of pavement in the Triangle.”

The new runway 5-Left/23-Right replaces a 10,000-foot concrete landing strip built in the 1980s, which is starting to show signs of wear and tear. A time-lapse video released by the airport shows how crews must replace slabs of concrete overnight between flights.

The runway will be 639 feet longer than the old one, which will become a taxiway. As work begins, the airport will need to relocate a portion of Lumley Road, which is close to Interstate 540 and U.S. Highway 70. Utility lines and navigational aids will also be moved.

The added runway length will allow RDU to serve more destinations on the West Coast and beyond. It will also make room for an expanded Terminal 2, a key part of the airport’s “Vision 2040” master plan.

“This critical infrastructure will allow RDU to keep up with the region’s increasing demand for air travel and help RDU recruit new airlines and more routes,” airport CEO Michael Landguth said in a statement.

The runway project comes at a time when the airport has seen passenger traffic rebound to pre-pandemic levels. Several airlines, including Icelandair, Avelo, and Lufthansa, have or will start service to RDU in the coming months.

Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.