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Photo courtesy of Port Authority
An image of LaGuardia Airport's Terminal B once it's complete around mid year 2020.

A project intended to reduce the flow of trucks to and from LaGuardia Airport by recycling construction debris into new building material has spared local streets and highways a total of 250,000 truck miles, the equivalent of 10 trips around the world, according to the Port Authority.

In an effort to reduce the impact of LaGuardia Airport’s $8 billion redevelopment construction on the airport’s neighboring communities in Queens, the Port Authority enlisted the LaGuardia Gateway Partners, which is comprised of several infrastructure and management companies including Skanska-Walsh as the design build joint venture, to lead the program in 2017.

“The Port Authority has made sustainability a core priority and taken aggressive steps to reduce its environmental impact across the region, especially on our neighboring communities in Queens,” said Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of NY and NJ. “Reducing truck travel on local streets by recycling thousands of tons of concrete construction debris is just one example of our commitment to lowering the carbon footprint at the new LaGuardia Airport.”

The program consists of crushing and recycling concrete from airport demolition in a portion of the Elmjack Little League Fields, located at 78-1 19th Rd. in East Elmhurst. That land, located west of the airport across Bowery Bay, is technically part of LaGuardia Airport and is under long term lease from New York City by the Port Authority.

The trucks carrying concrete from airport demolition projects travel directly to the crushing facility, near 19th Avenue, without leaving airport property.

Therefore, the temporary facility has reduced the distance traveled by trucks by more than 250,000 miles, according to the Port Authority. A round trip for a truck to and from the crushing site is four miles or less.

Instead of trucking in new material from a quarry 30 miles away in Nyack or disposing of the concrete in Westbury, the concrete is crushed and recycled into aggregate for reuse in LaGuardia’s construction projects as backfill or for the sub-base for new construction.

The recycling project reduces traffic and pollution that otherwise would have resulted from trucking demolition debris off site and trucking new material to the airport across local streets and highways, according to Port Authority.

Without the recycling project, the Port Authority says the trucks would have used 94th Street and Astoria Boulevard on the way to either the Long Island Expressway or to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.

Although the project temporarily took away one of Elmjack Little League’s ball fields, it still allows them to use the rest of the site for their games. In 2017, Skanska USA and Skanska-Walsh provided Elmjack Little League Fields with $1.8 million to repair and improve their fields.

“As the first transportation agency to embrace the Paris Climate Agreement, the Port Authority’s commitment to environmentally conscious construction was recognized last year when the new Terminal B at LaGuardia received the Envision Platinum Award from the Institute for Sustainable Growth, a not-for-profit group that develops and maintains sustainability ratings for all civil infrastructure,” Cotton said.

Thomas Nilsson, a Skanska USA vice president and lead executive for the Skanska-Walsh construction joint venture, said their company strives to ensure that their projects have positive impacts on local communities.

“Skanska builds for a better society, and as such we strive to ensure that our projects have positive impacts on local communities, LaGuardia is no exception,” Nilsson said. “We are always looking for opportunities to partner with the Queens community, whether that’s investing in the future of Elmjack Little League, developing new and sustainable approaches to our work, or providing STEM learning opportunities for the next generation of aspiring engineers. One of Skanska’s U.S. headquarters is less than a mile away from Elmjack’s fields and we look forward to cheering them on for seasons to come.”

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