Tag Archives: Port Authority

Update on Nemo cleanup


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

The  city is swiftly bouncing back after the blizzard dubbed “Nemo” swept through the Northeast last night.

The “Big 4″ lines – Babylon, Huntington, Port Washington and Ronkonkoma – of the LIRR are running on every two hours, the MTA announced. Service on other branches will be restored when rail travel is safe again.

While snow falls dwindled by noon today, the Office of Emergency Management advises that winds can still pick up and cause snow drifts throughout the area.

Snow plows have been clearing and salting streets. To see when the last time your street was plowed, click here.

Queens got comparatively less snow than other parts of Long Island, such as Suffolk County. Governor Andrew Cuomo said he has requested Mayor Michael Bloomberg send any additional snow plows to help ease the two-plus feet of snow in Suffolk. The plows won’t go out until after the city is completely plowed, Cuomo said.

Drivers should stay off the road today, the governor advised, as first responders are still trying to clean up from the storm.

“I’ve been all over the metropolitan area and it is dangerous to be on the roads,” Cuomo said. “This is not the day to be out and about.”

Both LaGuardia and JFK International airports are open, according to the Port Authority. Travelers should check with their airlines to check the status of their flight.

Upscale hotel may land at JFK


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Evan P. Cordes

The former TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport may be closer to turning into a chic boutique hotel.

Ron Marsico, a spokesperson for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which controls the TWA structure, said that it’s negotiating with a developer about building a hotel at the location.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s Andre Balazs Properties, a developer known for high-end hotels such as the Standard group of lodgings in New York, Los Angeles and Miami Beach.

Designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen, the TWA building was constructed in 1962, but closed in 2001 because it “no longer [met] the needs of passengers because of its many aeronautical limitations,” said the Port Authority, adding that it’s “committed to reopening this marvel of modern American architecture to the public.”

Part of that commitment included a $20 million restoration of the structure after it closed.

The TWA Flight Center also sits behind JFK’s Terminal 5 and connects to it via tubes. Terminal 5 is currently being redesigned and expanded to better serve JetBlue flights.

In February 2011, the Port Authority held a tour of the building for potential developers that were interested in incorporating a hotel into the TWA Flight Center.

That list included Andre Balazs Properties as well as Yotel, the Trump Organization, Starwood Hotels and 24 other developers.

If Andre Balazs Properties does build a hotel at the site, it would be the developer’s first in Queens and at an airport.

There are no guarantees, however, that an upscale boutique hotel at JFK would be successful, especially with the airport’s separated terminals.

“It’s very different from a lot of places around that world that are more consolidated,” Richard Barone, a transportation planner with the nonprofit Regional Plan Association, told the Wall Street Journal. “Ideally you’d like to have facilities that are more common use.”

The only other hotel located right at the airport, a Ramada, closed a few years ago, but the Port Authority is considering reopening it, said Marsico.

 

An inside look at the TWA Flight Center during this fall's Open House New York Weekend. (Photo by Nicholas Lemery Nantel)

 

 

Drivers to pay more at Port Authority crossings beginning Sunday


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Toll hikes go into effect on Port Authority crossings beginning Sunday, a December tradition drivers will have to get used to.

E-ZPass users will be paying an additional 75 cents — $8.25 off peak and $10.25 on peak — while cash tolls will rise $1 to $13.

All increases will apply to the Lincoln & Holland tunnels, the George Washington, Bayonne and Goethals bridges, and the Outerbridge Crossing.

More toll increases are scheduled each December through 2015. The hikes were approved in August.  Increased revenue from the increases will go towards the cost of the World Trade Center rebuilding and the overhaul of the agencies facilities, according to the PA.

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.

JetBlue expansion at JFK will bring jobs


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of JetBlue

More than 1,000 jobs are expected to come from a green-lit terminal expansion at JFK International Airport, the Port Authority and JetBlue announced last week.

The expansion will add 145,000-square-feet on three levels to the already 635,000-square-feet JetBlue occupies in Terminal 5. The new terminal will be called T5i and handle international flights and house a federal customs station — eliminating the need for customs inspections at Terminal 4 — according to JetBlue.

Port Authority Chair David Samson complimented the airline on its service and its commitment to the area.

“The JetBlue agreement is another great example of the agency’s efforts to partner with the private sector to provide for our region’s transportation infrastructure needs, while creating high-paying construction jobs and spurring further long-term economic activity in New York and New Jersey,” he said.

Along with the expected 1,090 jobs, the project is expected to bring in $74 million in wages and $325 million from economic activity over the duration, the Port Authority said. The project is expected to begin this summer; completion is expected by either 2014 or 2015. A price tag for the expansion has not yet been set.

Executives of Long Island City-based JetBlue said they were happy to continue expanding at JFK.

“We’re excited to move forward with our plans to further expand our presence at JFK and to create a seamless travel experience for our customers transferring from international flights, and would like to thank the Port Authority for their approval and on-going support,” said vice president of Corporate Real Estate Richard Smyth.

Fowl Strikes Cause Foul Feelings


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Recent collisions between birds and airplanes departing city airports could give a much-needed “all clear” for negotiations between the Port Authority and wildlife conservation groups.

While recent uproar mainly surrounds possible runway expansion plans at JFK, in-flight crashes with birds came under scrutiny when a Los Angeles-bound flight was quickly grounded after a bird was sucked into its engine shortly after taking off on Thursday, April 19.

Tarmac expansion came under fire when the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced its proposal to extend the airport’s runway, expected to cover a significant portion of the Jamaica Bay area, in February, 2011. The 400-acre area of land, including wetlands and shoreline, was designated as a wildlife refuge, park and recreation area by the National Parks System in 1972.

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder believes conservationists attempting to protect the birds and those trying to ensure the safety of plane passengers need to collaborate.

While preserving Jamaica Bay has long since been a priority on Goldfeder’s platform, he proclaims he is not for working against the airports, adding that there is always a balance to be found.

Goldfeder also noted that many people believe the birds striking the planes are not the same birds nesting in the Jamaica Bay area.

A source close to the situation suggested increasing traffic out of the city’s other airports, LaGuardia and Newark, is a better solution than filling in Jamaica Bay.

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, claimed that the agency’s wildlife control protocol is above and beyond Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, insisting they are among the industry’s most effective.

“Our wildlife biologists and staff efforts to minimize threats to aircraft include reducing nesting areas, removing standing water and eliminating food sources,” said Coleman. “We also use pyrotechnics to disperse birds. We believe those efforts are effective since the number of incidents at JFK resulting in aircraft damage has remained about the same since 2008.”

Dan Mundy, president and founder of Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers, believes the recent increase in collisions Mundy mentioned the famed incident of US Airways Flight 1549, when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River after striking a flock of Canadian geese in January of 2009. Mundy alleged that high-flying fowl cause more severe problems than those closer to the ground, adding that groups of migrating birds can be dangerous to planes, as with Flight 1549.

According to published reports, Sullenberger opposes the mayor’s plan to put a trash station near LaGuardia Airport — a decision that will inevitably bring more birds to the area.

Acknowledging that the Port Authority takes measures to scare away birds, such as simulated gunshots and preying falcons, Mundy wondered why plane manufacturers have yet to design a system to prevent birds from being sucked into engines.

Mundy added that bird strikes are not just a problem with airplanes. Several tall buildings, including the Empire State Building, have caused the demise of birds killed by flying directly into the glass windows.

Honoring the fallen at St. Michael’s


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

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Equally as striking as the monument listing the names of the 343 firefighters that sacrificed their lives on September 11, 2001 are the bricks at its base with the names of the first responders from all emergency services that died as a result of working on “the pile.” As of now, the number of first responder deaths remains at 95, but there are plenty of bricks that will undoubtedly add to that number.

The memorial service and dedication at St. Michael’s Cemetery honoring fallen firefighters, police and Port Authority officers brought together elected leaders, FDNY and NYPD officials, as well as families of those lost for an afternoon of grieving and a celebration of their lives. The event, on Saturday, September 24, began with an invocation by Father Christopher Keenan who read the Gettysburg Address followed by a statement by Congressmember Joe Crowley who commented on the two dozen young firefighters dressed in bunker gear who stood during the ceremony.

“They’re taking up a job that has a legacy,” said Crowley. “Many believed that the fire department could never recover after the attack, but nothing could be more false . . . They have never forgotten those that have fallen.”

Crowley also included an anecdote about his cousin John Moran, a Battalion Chief on Randall’s Island who died at the World Trade Center.

“I’m sure each and every one of you can take out a moment about a son or daughter that you lost that day and look back and smile,” said Crowley.

Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, one of the sponsors of the Zadroga Act – named for police officer James Zadroga who died of a respiratory disease attributed to toxins at Ground Zero – spoke to the long road the legislation took until enacted in January 2011. The act expands death benefits and monitored care for those who worked at the World Trade Center site.

“Who would have thought it would have taken us seven years to pass the Zadroga Act?” asked Maloney. “This bill will save lives. We will not stop until we make sure that it continues to take care of the men and women who took care of us.”

She continued to mention the beauty of the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site and urged those in attendance to take a trip downtown to see it.

Also in attendance was Comptroller John Liu who helped fund the St. Michael’s 9/11 memorial, Former Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., FDNY Chief Kevin Butler, PAPD Inspector Brian Sullivan, NYPD Chief Dianna Pizzutti as well as the PAPD Pipes and Drums, among other special guests.

Former FDNY Chief Alexander Santora and his wife, Maureen who – along with Ed Horn of St. Michaels – were instrumental in erecting the memorial, spoke about the importance of remembering those, like their son, Christopher, who died on 9/11. After encouraging those in attendance to come back to see the additions to the bricks at the base of the memorial, the former chief summed up the feeling of many on hand:

“They have one hell of a fire department up in heaven.”