2009-07-17 / Front Page

Quieter Skies On Tap For Rockaway

JFK Runway Set For Renovation
By Howard Schwach

One of the longest and busiest commercial airline runways in the world will shut down for a time later this month, giving some relief for those who live on the west end of the peninsula.

John F. Kennedy Airport's Runway 13 Right - 31 Left is infamous in Rockaway as the starting point for American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A-300 that crashed into Rockaway immediately after its takeoff from Runway 31-Left.

Departing flights from 31-Left pass over Howard Beach and then hang a left turn over Jamaica Bay and then over Rockaway to a waypoint in the Atlantic Ocean and then to points in South and Central America.

The runway is more than 2.75 miles long and 150 feet wide, officials say, and it handled more than 143,000 arrivals and departures last year.

The project to rehabilitate the runway, which was last resurfaced in 1993, is expected to begin later this month with site preparation and is expected to continue until November of 2011.

The runway will be closed for short periods until March 11, 2010, when it will be closed completely. It is expected to reopen on June 29, 2010 at which time it will be closed once again for short periods of time, Federal Aviation Administration officials say.

Construction crews are expected to remove five inches of the runway's asphalt surface and replace it with concrete, which is considered more durable.

Officials say that while fewer flights will travel over the west end of Rockaway during the renovation, those flights will be rerouted to other runways, meaning more traffic for the eastern end of the peninsula and for the Five Towns in Nassau County.

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