$8.9 million secured for JFK Airport runway upgrades

Photo courtesy of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The second of a three-phase improvement plan for one of JFK Airport’s runways will use $8.9 million in federal funding to improve safety measures and reduce the time planes spend on the ground, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Friday.

The project, which began construction in July 2014 on Runway 4L-22R, will be completed in December 2015 with a number of key upgrades, including high-speed taxiways to allow airplanes to exit runways at higher speeds. This addition will allow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to more efficiently use the airfield and avoid delays.

The safety zones at both ends of the runway will also be extended 1,000 feet to comply with an enhanced FAA requirement. Navigational aid and electrical systems will be replaced and upgraded as part of the $292 million reconstruction project.

“This funding is another step forward in our efforts to reinvent New York’s airports for the 21st century,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who secured funding along with Gillibrand, Senator Charles Schumer and Mayor Bill de Blasio. “By upgrading JFK’s runways and its supporting infrastructure, we are fundamentally improving its ability to meet the demands of modern air travel. That means reducing delays for thousands of passengers every day, and I look forward to seeing this project get underway.”??

The temporary closing of Runway 4L-22R has resulted in headaches for Hamilton Beach and Howard Beach residents. Constant air pollution and low-flying airplanes have plagued these neighborhoods now that one less runway is being utilized. According to State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, residents have been calling his office to express their concerns about the increased noise and airplane traffic.

“Whenever the Port Authority or any federal employees are repairing a runway, I do appreciate the work being done there but of course it does also mean a detriment to my constituents because it changes air traffic patterns,” Addabbo said. “Once they started the work on the runway at JFK, certainly there has been a significant increase in complaints from my constituents.”

Addabbo noted that a constituent reached out to him recently after witnessing infrastructure damage to his house because of low flying planes. A recent Hamilton Beach town hall meeting was interrupted every two minutes because of airplane noise, he said.

Addabbo, who has lived near JFK Airport in Ozone Park his entire life, said that while technology has allowed for airplanes to emit less noise, air traffic has become more frequent in the last several years and skies will continue to become more crowded as the airline industry expands.

He encourages that people experiencing problems because of the construction reach out to city, state and, more importantly, federal officials and to fill out a noise complaint form on the Port Authority website.

“It can’t happen fast enough,” Addabbo said of the construction, which is supposed to largely be completed by September.