Charleston faces airport traffic mess

Boeing’s plans to expand in South Carolina could cause airline passengers to miss flights out of Charleston.

The Post and Courier newspaper reports that the Charleston County Aviation Authority — which operates Charleston International Airport and owns the land that Boeing is building on — is struggling to rework the traffic flow around the Boeing factories. The issue — workers commuting to and from the Boeing and Global Aeronautica factories use the same road that passengers headed to the Charleston International terminal. (Here in Puget Sound, past Boeing executives were smart enough not to put any factories at Seattle-Tacoma International, and instead located factories at secondary airports that have suitable runways. Charleston doesn’t have suitable secondary airports.)

That’s going to make serious traffic jams for people trying to get to the airport at shift changes, airport authority Chairman David Jennings said. “How do we get people to the terminal without having them sit in traffic for an hour?” he told the newspaper. “As we got closer to the Boeing announcement, we began telling people at the state that somebody has to do something about our roads because we can’t manage everything we have now, plus 3,800 more people.”

The Company’s solution is to propose that local governments pay for building a new freeway exit just for Boeing workers to enter and exit the site. Complicating matters, Boeing is also telling the airport managers that it wants to build its new 787 factory on top of an existing street, which will mean shifting that road to the east.

Boeing executives expect to have all the site work completed, new factory built and a new workforce recruited, hired and trained so they can start delivering three 787s a month from Charleston by 2012. Meanwhile, the Company plans to build seven Dreamliners a month in Everett, where it already has room inside the World’s Largest Building (by Volume) to locate a second 787 production line, and where it already has permits pre-approved for any likely future expansions.

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