By Bill Parry
The Port Authority Board of Commissioners last week approved a $215 million project to construct a new high-speed taxiway at JFK International Airport. The new taxiway, on a key arrivals runway, will help make operations at one of the nation’s busiest airports more efficient, reduce delays and save travelers time.
The 10,000-foot-long Runway 13L-31R, which runs east to west on the airport’s north side and handles 50 percent of JFK ‘s arriving flights, will be overhauled as part of the Port Authority’s investment. The new taxiway will be created to allow planes to exit the runway faster after touching down, speeding the time to gates and freeing the runway sooner for the next plane.
“Today’s investment in John F. Kennedy International Airport keeps our infrastructure in a state-of-good repair while enhancing operations and reducing delays,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said. “This work in another example of the Port Authority fulfilling its core transportation mission by enhancing infrastructure to meet the region’s 21st century needs.”
The new high-speed taxiway is projected to reduce runway occupancy time by nearly six seconds on average, which doesn’t seem like much. But when you multiply that for each of the 90,000 arrivals a year the cumulative time it will save is nearly 1,000 hours of taxiing times.
“The Port Authority is committed to reducing flight delays where possible with on-the-ground infrastructure improvements, such as installation of high-speed taxiways where possible,” Port Authority Vice Chairman Jeffrey Lynford said. “By modernizing JFK’s airfield with enhanced safety and technology features, we will significantly benefit our customers, airlines and other aviation partners.”
The project, which will keep the runway in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration standards, also will boost the regional economy, officials said. Over the life of the project, the work is expected to generate 1,880 jobs, and additional $140.6 million in wages and nearly $385 million in economic activity.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the Port Authority selected a Mott MacDonald-led consulting team to begin work on the $10 billion redevelopment of the airport. The selection is the next major step in Cuomo’s plan to transform JFK — which welcomes more international passengers to the United States than any other airport in the country — into a unified, world-class operation to accommodate forecasted passenger growth, while helping to further boost New York City’s regional economy.
JFK served a record 60 million passengers overall in 2016. That number is expected to grow dramatically over the coming years to 75 million in 2030 and 100 million in 2050
“We’re making these plans a reality,” Cuomo said. “The new JFK will be a crown jewel of the New York City transportation network, an airport of the calibre New Yorkers deserve, and a center of economic vitality and activity.”
The redevelopment plan includes an interconnected terminal system, a vastly overhauled roadway access network to reduce time-consuming bottlenecks and enhancements to the JFK AirTrain together with the expansion of rail mass transit with the focus on developing a one-seat ride to and from the airport to midtown Manhattan.
“Since the dawn of the jet age, John F. Kennedy International Airport has been a global leader in aviation,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “The planned redevelopment of this important worldwide gateway to New York is vital to transforming JFK into the top rank of airports globally. Customers are accustomed to travelling through state-of-the-art airport facilities the world over, and deserve no less from this nation’s leading international airport.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr