Little Rock Road becomes one way at airport

elyportillo@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 7, 2014 

  • New airport entrance road

People driving to Charlotte Douglas International Airport will notice one of the first big changes to how they access the terminal on Tuesday, as Little Rock Road transitions permanently to all one-way, airport-bound traffic.

The change is part of the airport’s new entrance road project, a $21.5 million effort to improve traffic flow to Charlotte Douglas.

“It will be a bit of an adjustment for folks,” said interim Deputy Aviation Director Jack Christine. “It may look a little weird or confusing at first. ... We’re confident the traveling public will figure it out.”

To help guide drivers, Christine said signs and traffic personnel have been added.

The biggest change will be for drivers leaving Charlotte Douglas and heading to Wilkinson Boulevard. No longer will they be able to take Little Rock Road outbound. Instead, they’ll have to take Old Dowd Road to Marshall Drive to get to Wilkinson.

In the next phase, the inbound lanes of Josh Birmingham Parkway will be linked directly to Little Rock Road. That means all airport-bound traffic will take that road to the terminal.

Christine said the entrance road project should be completed by late September.

Christine said more construction projects are ongoing or upcoming at the airport.

“We are about 30 percent into what I would call the terminal redevelopment,” he said.

In coming weeks, crews will start tearing down the remnants of the old pedestrian bridges that used to connect the terminal to the hourly lots.

Then work will start on underground tunnels for pedestrians to move from the terminal to the new, $120 million hourly lots, which are expected to be finished in November. After that, work is set to begin on an eight-lane road in front of the terminal, replacing the current three-lane road, a $32.6 million project which is set to go through late 2015.

That will set the stage for a $125 million expansion and renovation of the existing terminal, adding more space to the lobby, security, ticketing and baggage claim areas. That project is expected be complete in 2018. All of those projects are set to be paid with airport revenue bonds, funded with the proceeds of the airport’s operation.

“We’re in the second quarter of a very long playoff game,” Christine said.

Portillo: 704-358-5041; Twitter: @ESPortillo

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