Tag Archives: Eastern Queens Alliance

Rumblings over JFK runway expansion continue

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) seem to be full-speed ahead on a plan to extend a runway at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport, stirring ire and confusion among those who live nearby.

“The FAA spoke as if they’re going to go through with this plan,” said Barbara Brown, chair of the Eastern Queens Alliance (EQA) after a community meeting with the flight organization on Tuesday, December 11.

The plan, proposed earlier this year, would cost nearly $500 million and will extend one of the four JFK runways by 728 feet to the north, closer to nearby residents. It also involves widening the runway by roughly 200 feet. This will allow for larger aircraft carrying more passengers, according to Port Authority officials. They also said JFK could significantly reduce flight delays.

The southeast communities of Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale already have planes flying very low overhead, seemingly skimming the tops of houses, and creating noise pollution throughout the area.

“It’s killing our neighborhood,” said Brown. “And it seems like the planes are flying lower. You can almost reach out and touch them.”

Robert Jaffe of the FAA countered this claim, saying that all altitude regulations for planes are ensured so pilots can have a safe landing, and that from the ground, it is difficult to accurately determine just how high an airplane is in the sky.

Mark Guiod, manager of New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), was also present at the meeting, and explained flight patterns for the five major New York airports to residents.

“We can only land and depart so many planes in one hour,” he said. “And we have to meet the demand that is given to us at any given hour.” Guiod said that TRACON must direct each flight to a particular runway, and that runway is chosen based on availability, wind, weather, operational efficiency and noise considerations.

Despite the informative presentation given by the FAA, residents were still extremely displeased, because no answer was given as to what is going to be done about the excessive noise.

“You have done an excellent job in describing what is good for the nation,” said Councilmember James Sanders. “But you have done a remarkably poor job at describing what is good for this community.”

FAA representatives did, however, suggest that within the coming years, aircraft will get quieter, and noisy engines will disappear by “natural selection.”

After the initial meeting describing the runway expansion proposal on Thursday, October 4, Brown and the EQA drafted a 19-page document with questions and concerns for the Port Authority and the FAA. They have not heard anything, nor has anyone else from the community that submitted similar letters.

There is a coming final draft proposal, which will be followed by a comment period in which the community can pose more questions and concerns, and Brown and the EQA plan to be very active during this period.

If approved, the runway extension will add $150 million in wages and $707 million in economic activity.

Residents up in arms over JFK runway expansion

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

John F. Kennedy International Airport has some angry neighbors to the north, thanks to a proposed plan by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to extend a runway closer to a nearby residential community.

“Our question is, how big is big enough?” asked Barbara Brown, chair of the Eastern Queens Alliance, of the potential 728-foot runway expansion. At a public hearing on Thursday, October 4, hundreds of southeast Queens residents gathered in St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Springfield Gardens to voice their opposition to the Port Authority’s plan.

“This is airport sprawl,” said Brown,as planes could be heard soaring overhead.

The Port Authority, under Federal Aviation Association (FAA) guidelines, wishes to widen JFK runway 4L/22R by roughly 200 feet, and expand it to the north. This change will allow the runway to accommodate larger aircraft carrying more passengers, according to Port Authority officials. Also, officials said, JFK would potentially experience a significant reduction in flight delays.

However, Queens residents are concerned with the noise and air pollution they expect the expansion to bring, mainly to the Springfield Gardens community.

“There will be a significant impact,” said Brown. “The Port Authority slipped up, they didn’t do their diligence.”

Brown and the Eastern Queens Alliance also accused the Port Authority of not making the local community aware of the proposed change, instead warning the residents in Nassau County.

The agency advertised its $500 million plan in Newsday last spring, and allowed the Long Island community to voice its concerns, which will be considered by the FAA. However, those closest to the airport were unaware of the situation until much later, they claim.

Brian Simon, director of government relations for the Port Authority, attended Thursday’s meeting.

“I thank [Brown] for keeping us honest,” he said. “Sometimes in government, we are not perfect. We can do better.”

Simon stated they are mandated by the federal government to create this project, and noted the large economic output that could result from the expansion.

“[JFK is] an economic engine that serves this community,” he said, citing the jobs that the international airport creates.

Port Authority environment officials have also done an analysis of the area, as well as tests regarding noise pollution. Studies found that the expansion would only raise the noise level by 0.7 decibels, an amount nearly undetectable by the human ear. Thus, officials claim there would be no significant impact.

Residents responded by “boos” and shouts, not won over by the Port Authority’s arguments.

“We are open to all comments,” said Simon, who encouraged residents to contact him after the meeting with their concerns.

The local community now has until November 1 to file complaints with the Port Authority, which will be considered by the FAA and put into the plan’s final proposal.

If approved, the expansion will be complete by late 2014.