Group protests RDU Airport plan that may remove cycling trails, greenways


MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Dozens gathered in Downtown Raleigh Thursday to protest the proposed changes to a few hundred acres near Lake Crabtree.

The group Triangle Off-Road Cyclists staged themselves outside the Raleigh Convention Center where RDU CEO Michael Landguth was scheduled to speak to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

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See photos of the protest by clicking here.

The land in question is 611 acres of greenspace and hiking/walking trails between Umstead State Park and Lake Crabtree County Park. The airport owns the land and currently leases it to Wake County.

As part of RDU’s “Vision 2040” master plan, the airport is considering clearing out some green space and building office space, hotels and a quarry.

However, many of those who bike and walk the trails are against this plan saying it would wipe out valuable recreation trails.

“You plow that area over and turn it into a business park and we’d be losing a unique feature of Raleigh,” said Natalie Lew with the Triangle Off-Road Cyclists. “Volunteers have been putting time in for 30 years building trails out there and statistics show those are the highest used trails so now we’d be losing something that is extremely popular.”

The group would like the airport to reconsider the plan and say they have better alternatives that will still make the airport money. One of those alternatives includes an urban trail center with businesses on the fringe.

Airport staff says they’re still in the public hearing process of the master plan and are taking all of the Lake Crabtree concerns into consideration.

“Believe me, we are not anti-park, what we are is pro-airport and we need to ensure that the civil aviation infrastructure is here to meet the demands of this community,” said Kristie VanAuken, a spokesperson for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority.

No final decisions have been made yet. A final concept is expected to be presented to the public at the next Master Plan Public Hearing in mid-October.

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