2009-07-31 / Top Stories

JFK Runway Reconstruction Begins

Experts: Project Will Save Travel Time And Reduce Congestion Costs

Reconstruction work began on Tuesday on Runway 13R-31 Left at JFK Airport. Reconstruction work began on Tuesday on Runway 13R-31 Left at JFK Airport. A major runway project that could impact noise on the Rockaway peninsula began in earnest on Tuesday, when Governor David A. Paterson kicked off the $376.3 million project at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The Bay Runway, which handles departures and arrivals over Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula, will undergo significant rehabilitation to reduce delays and improve airport operations, supporting an estimated 2,500 jobs, an official says.

The Governor made the announcement from the runway, joined by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) Director Christopher Ward, the Federal Aviation Ad- ministration (FAA), local elected officials and members from the labor community.

"Since it first opened in 1948, John F. Kennedy Airport, and very often the Bay Runway itself, has been New York's gateway to the world, serving millions of passengers each year, providing tens of thousands of jobs and generating billions in economic activity," Governor Paterson said. "If Kennedy Airport is to remain a portal to and from this city and our country, we must continue to invest in it through necessary infrastructure upgrades. The runway expansion, addition of taxiways and other improvements will save passengers time, reduce delays and costs associated with congestion and provide considerable economic development to this region."

Construction on the Bay Runway, better known as Runway 13R-31L, is part of the second phase of the JFK Delay Reduction Program. The project will widen the runway from 150 to 200 feet and will include a new drainage system, new electrical infrastructure, the addition of delay reduction taxiways and accommodations for future navigational aids. The project will support 1,000 direct and 1,500 ancillary jobs, including direct construction work, asphalt and concrete production, running of aeronautical lighting and food services.

The improvements are expected to reduce flight delays overall by an estimated 10,500 hours per year.

Accommodations to taxiways - including high-speed exits for landing aircraft and holding pads where departing aircraft can literally pull off - will enable planes to bypass those held on the tarmac so that others may proceed.

Runways at major commercial airports typically require major maintenance work every five to 10 years. This investment in the Bay Runway takes advantage of an opportunity to make longer-lasting improvements to the Bay Runway - foregoing old-model asphalt for an 18-inch concrete overlay instead. The lifespan of concrete is nearly five times more than asphalt and will provide an estimated longterm savings of $500 million while reducing the need for ongoing maintenance.

Rockaway residents will remember that Runway 13R-31L was the departure point for American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300 that crashed into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001.

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