2010-01-15 / Top Stories

March JFK Runway Shutdown Set

A Google map view of the airport. Runway 13R-31L, which hosts many of the departures over the western end of the peninsula, will be closed for four months beginning in April. A Google map view of the airport. Runway 13R-31L, which hosts many of the departures over the western end of the peninsula, will be closed for four months beginning in April. Starting in March and lasting for at least four months, Runway 13R-31L, the workhouse of John F. Kennedy airport’s four runways, will close for repairs, meaning more flights over the eastern end of the Rockaway peninsula, officials say.

At 14,572 feet, the runway is the second longest commercial landing strip in the country and it handles a third of the airport’s traffic, including more than half of its departures. The great majority of those departures take the aircraft over Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula, experts say.

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

“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 upon announcing the reconstruction project late last year. “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.

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 long-term 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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