The airport you say? The Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CDIA)? Really?
Ahhh, yes its a nightmare all right. Traffic, ambiguous signage, rent-a-cop traffic directors, crazy never ending construction projects, bottle necks and traffic grid lock, all combining to make any trip to the airport unbearable.
So who is the idiot who thought all of this up? Meet Brent Cagle.
Cagle is the man with his head in the sand, "there's no problem" he says, "we are a growing operation, a big airport" he boasts in Donald Trump fashion.
CDIA is ranked 10th nationally, Cagle will argue that its really 5th based on departures and arrivals divided by number of air-cargo flights times the square root of Jennifer Roberts IQ. But for the sake of simple we will use the Wikipedia numbers which are here.
Cagle was given the task of moving CDIA forward 2 years ago, yet he is still shackled with the ghost of Jerry Orr. You see CDIA even long after Orr's departure is still a fiefdom, and still answers to no one.
Most of us Charlotte taxpayers are ok with the airport, even though we endure low flying jet aircraft over our homes thanks to a program called NexGen, higher fares than nearby cities because American Airlines control 95 percent of the daily flights and traffic, insane airport traffic.
But CDIA could make it easier on us to pick-up family. Beyond the poor signage, the airport cell phone lot is a nightmare, apparently designed by a blind monkey on a 3 day weekend bender.
First the location, while adequate, is not well marked and shares an entrance with a long term lot that is often backed up with traffic. To get to the lot traffic coming off oh Billy Graham must cross four lanes of to get in the turn lane for the cell phone lot. Often doing so will earn you a lot of friendly one digit hellos.
The entrance being not well marked often makes for interesting traffic flow.
|This guy missed the tiny sign and pavement markings.|
|So he made up his own driving rules.|
Seems that blind monkeys only drive Prius hybrids, because unless you drive a Mini Cooper sized car you'll hit at least one of the curbs in the lot. Everyone of these rim busters shows signs of concrete failure, and grass worn bare by tires riding up and over the curbs.
|This is the first turn and the curb gets a lot of abuse.|
|Exit to the right or go around again. The exit curb gets it always.|
|This turn has a little more room but still grinds away at tires.|
|Not only does this curb get a workout but Ford 150's hit both sides and the tree branches.|
When that call finally comes from Aunt Doris that she's claimed her luggage, you have to drive against the flow of traffic just to exit the lot or circle around the lot once more hitting more curbs.
|The exit is to the right but the traffic flow is in the other direction|
|The long road that parallels the main road to the terminal.|
|During off peak hours most drivers opt for drive thru.|
Now that you've escaped the lot, you're given another set of challenges. Rather than exit the lot back on to the road to the terminal you have to drive down a side road, navigate a traffic circle, dodge construction dump trucks at a four way stop sign, turn left onto a very short road and try to cut into a long cue of backed up traffic, counting on Charlotte's much diminished Southern Hospitality to let you into the scramble for a limited number of curbside spaces. This will also earn you the up raised finger the international sign for hello.
Admittedly its not as bad as New York's Kennedy airport cell phone lot traffic scheme below. This was designed by a "committee" of blind monkeys.
The purpose of a cell phone lot is to eliminate "circulating" traffic that rolls around the airport waiting for arriving passengers to collect baggage and exit the terminal.
Most cellphone lots came into play shortly after 9/11 due to concerns over parked vehicles at the front of the terminal. CDIA's cell phone lot has been relocated several times depending on the newest, greatest and latest construction project. But the most recent incarnation is the worst by far.
CDIA management knows the cellphone lot is inadequate and while they won't admit it publically they will allow you to use the parking deck free of charge for 30 mins. Of course you can't get to the terminal without using the elevators and navigating a maze of pedestrian barriers and traffic cones. So most of us just circle the terminal. Those who don't care to drive all the way out to Wilkenson Blvd and back now use the "authorized vehicles only" road just to the north of the daily parking lot.
Those who don't use the loop, or cut through method often simply park where they can on the side of the road.
The basic requirements of a cellphone lot, for some reason are lost on CDIA's Brent Cagle and management. So maybe if I spell it out someone will take notice.
CDIA's cellphone lot is not convenient, while safe for the most part, except at night when its poor lighting comes into play, its hardly efficient, but it is free.
The ideal design should be close to the terminal. One-way traffic with pull through parking spaces is a must for this tight "holding" area. Requiring drivers to back up into a high traffic area is just begging for trouble.
I'm not asking for much here, but CDIA could've gone Denver's route.
Denver International the nation's sixth busiest airport, has a state of the art cell phone lot. The lot has a fast food court, picnic tables, a gas station views of landing and departing aircraft, free Wi-Fi, covered parking for snowy days and the list goes on and on.
Admittedly Denver has space a lot of land to play with, and with 28 million passenger boarding a large revenue stream to work with. It doesn't hurt that Denver has a state transportation department that is very pro active.
|Located at the main entrance with easy in/out|
So there you have it Charlotte's sad excuse for a cell phone lot that lacks in so many regards being out done by a simple design I Fort Myers that not only serves the purpose of holding area but also is a revenue source for the airport and people actually enjoy using.
Cedar Posts reached out to Brent Cagle about the cell phone and via phone and email, several times while putting this blog post together, nothing but crickets. CP has also hinted at the issues regarding the lot via twitter often during the past 3 months crickets there as well.
Any suggestions? Thoughts?