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JFK Construction Will Close Runways, Impact Noise

Port Authority officials explain upcoming projects and potential impacts at Monday's TVASNAC meeting.

Remember when the Bay Runway at JFK airport was shut down for 120 days in 2010 for a major reconstruction project? Well, the Port Authority is planning a similar job on 4L/22R that is expected to start in 2013 and shut down these runways in 2014.

At Monday's meeting of the Town-Village Aircraft Safety and Noise Abatement Committee, Ralph Tragale, assistant director of Aviation for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Jim Steven, manager of Physical Plant and Redevelopment at JFK airport, described the minor projects they have planned for the rest of 2012 and shed light on the major work slated for 2013 and beyond.

Construction is winding down at JFK airport, Tragale said, and the Port Authority has no plans to take any runways out of service for the rest of the calendar year for any extended amount of time. In October, Runway 4R will be closed for one day for a community clean-up project, 13L and 4L will be closed for two nights for runway grooving work, and 4R will be shut down by the FAA for atleast five nights to work on its approach lights. There's always the potential that the Port Authority may need to close other runways for regular lighting and pavement repairs as needed, but these result in very short-term closures, Steven explained.

But in 2013 the Port Authority plans to begin its next major rehabilitation project, which is expected to cost nearly $500 million. As it did with 13R/22L, also known as the “Bay Runway,” the asphalt base (which needs to be rehabbed every 7-10 years) on 4L/22R will be replaced with concrete, which has a 40-year lifespan. (Tragale put to rest rumors that the contractors botched the Bay Runway concrete job.) Similarly, 4L/22R will also be widened to 200 feet.

“The project is driven by runway safety issues,” Steven said, explaining that a Congressional mandate was issued to make all runway safety areas fully compliant with Federal Aviation Administration standards by 2015.

Currently, 4L/22R lacks a sufficient safety area at its south end, which is needed in case a plane overruns the runway. But since the Port Authority cannot extend the runway further south, because it would encroach on Gateway National Park, an additional 460 feet of pavement will be added to the its north end to achieve compliance.

The Port Authority expects construction on this project to begin this spring, with most of the work concentrated on the north end. The runway will remain in service in 2013, but it will be closed for most of 2014, as construction continues throughout the spring, summer and fall. “I have to have it open by Nov. 15, 2014,” Steven said.

When the Bay Runway was under construction, the Port Authority reached out to JFK’s major carriers asking them to reduce their schedules to minimize the impact the closure would have on residents living under the remaining runways' approaches that would have to take on the flights that could no longer use 13R/22L.

“None of them want to reduce unless they all reduce … so it has to be cooperative effort,” Tragale said. “Our experience with the Bay Runway was very good and I expect it to be similar.”

Check back tomorrow to see what questions and concerns TVASNAC representatives and residents in attendance had for the Port Authority officials and how they responded.

Peter Robideau September 25, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Tara - will this have any affect on the departures headed over Malverne?
Tara Conry September 26, 2012 at 05:51 PM
It's too soon to tell how the closures will impact residents because a mitigation plan has not been created yet ( the Port Authority has yet to reach out to the major carriers asking them to once again reduce their schedules) and ultimately, the FAA (which was not present at the meeting) decides how the runways are used. We'll continue to follow this though.
t. Ash September 28, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Are you aware if the Mayor of NHP ever sent a letter of comment to the FAA concerning NEXTGEN and the air traffic redesign nightmare ?
Geoffrey Walter September 29, 2012 at 12:35 AM
No, sorry. There was no mention of this at a recent meeting.

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