Traveling soon? Get ready for longer waits at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
JFK’s main runway, Bay Runway, which measures more than 14,500 feet long, shut down on Monday, March 1 as part of Governor David A. Paterson’s $376 million runway reconstruction project – it will not reopen until sometime in late June.
Plans for the reconstruction project include widening the runway from 150 to 200 feet to accommodate bigger planes, as well as installing a new drainage system, new electrical infrastructure, the addition of delay reduction taxiways and accommodations for future navigational aids.
In addition, the runway will be repaved with concrete, which shows to have a lifespan five times greater than that of asphalt, saving the state an estimated $500 million in the long term by reducing the need for maintenance.
“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,” 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.”
These improvements are expected to reduce flight delays by 10,500 hours per year.
But while the project is meant to help in the long term, passengers will have to deal with the difficulties ahead in the next four months.
A third of airport traffic, as well as half of the departures, will be diverted to the airport’s three smaller runways. As a result of this, airlines will cut 10 percent of their flights in to – and out of– Kennedy Airport, while building time into their schedules so planes won’t technically arrive “late.”
Since the main runway will be inoperable for the next few months, air-traffic controllers will need to learn new patterns for the planes. These new flight patterns could affect Queens residents in areas such as Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck and Whitestone, who never really had to deal with airplane noise before.
According to Dan Egers, spokesperson for City Councilmember Dan Halloran, the politician plans to monitor the situation and will be in communication with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
Angela Lau, a 21-year-old NYU student who travels to China every May, told The Courier, “This is the worst time for them to do something like this. It’s bad enough my flight takes me 20 hours when everything is running on time. How much longer am I supposed to wait with all these delays now too?”