Tuesday, June 16, 2009

JFK's Busiest Runway to Be Reconstructed by Stephen Geffon - Queens Chronicle

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JFK runway 13R-31L, one of the country’s longest commerical airport runways, will be expanded from 150 to 200 feet in width. (photo by Doug Schneider Photography)

One of the longest commercial airport runways in the United States — Kennedy International Airport’s 13R-31L — is about to receive a major makeover.

With the upcoming awarding of the JFK Airport Runway Reconstruction Contract on June 26 and start of construction shortly thereafter, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will implement the second phase of its $376.3 million JFK Delay Reduction Program, a time-saving plan designed to provide easier access from taxiways to terminal gates.The second phase will involve the reconstruction and widening of the congested runway, which measures 14,572 feet, or 2.8 miles, in length and handles about a third of the airport’s annual operations, including more than half of all departures. The project is expected to support more than 2,500 jobs, including 1,000 construction jobs at peak development, airport officials said.

“These projects have a single goal: to give every one of our 48 million annual customers a more efficient, passenger-friendly airport,” said Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia.

At last Thursday’s Community Board 10 meeting, Jim Steven, program director for Plant Structures and Development at JFK Airport, told members that the work will begin in June and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011. Runway 13R-31L, which is the airport’s main runway, will be closed for 120 days between March and June of 2010, at which time the airport’s three other runways will be utilized to their full capabilities to mitigate delays, Steven said.

During the reconstruction period, flights over Ozone Park and part of Howard Beach will be temporarily suspended.

The runway was last rehabilitated in 1993, using conventional asphalt paving methods, Steven said. Interim repairs were performed in 2004 as increased aircraft traffic caused the runway to rapidly deteriorate.

The reconstruction project includes milling six inches of existing runway asphalt and overlaying it with 18 inches of concrete, which has a lifespan of up to five times longer than asphalt and will provide an estimated long-term savings of between $300 and $400 million. The runway will be expanded from a width of 150 feet to 200 feet and new lighting and an electrical feeding system will be installed to accomodate for future navigational aids.

The work is slated to be done between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. to minimize traffic disruptions.

Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said the project would “create jobs, reduce flight delays and increase our airport’s capacity to handle more planes.”