Friday, July 2, 2010

Busiest JFK Runway Reopened by Stephen Geffon - Queens Chronicle

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The Bay Runway at JFK Airport, which has been closed for four months due to renovations, had its grand reopening last week. PHOTO COURTESY PORT AUTHORITY NY/NJ

JFK International Airport’s Bay Runway has been cleared for takeoff after a four-month reconstruction project.

At a press conference on Tuesday at Hangar 12, officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Federal Aviation Administration, the airlines and the project announced that Runway 13R-31L, which handles a third of airport traffic is re-opening ahead of schedule and within its $376 million budget.

About two-thirds of the three mile runway is now back in operation. A final, smaller segment is scheduled to be repaired in September, which will require the closing of an intersecting runway for two weeks.
The Bay Runway is scheduled to be fully operational by Nov 15, the FAA said.

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“With the completion of the Bay Runway reconstruction, John F. Kennedy International Airport has stepped boldly into a new era of transportation that will mean jobs, new revenue and greater economic growth for the entire tri-state region,” said Gov. David Paterson.

JFK Airport serves 48 million passengers annually and had roughly 440,000 flights last year.

The runway reconstruction project included milling six inches of existing runway asphalt and overlaying it with 18 inches of concrete. It has a lifespan of up to five times longer than asphalt and will provide an estimated savings of $500 million while reducing the need for ongoing maintenance. The 14,572-foot-long runway has been widened from 150 feet to 200 feet to accommodate new, larger aircraft. New lighting and electrical infrastructure were installed as well as a new electrical feeder system to accommodate for future navigational aids.

According to Jim Steven, program director for Plant Structures and Development at JFK, the runway was last rehabilitated in 1993 using conventional asphalt paving methods. Interim repairs were performed in 2004 due to increased aircraft traffic.

JFK is one of the nation’s most delay-plagued airports. It ranked 28 out of 31 of the nation’s major airports in on-time arrival performance in 2009, according to the Department of Transportation.

These improvements are expected to reduce flight delays by 10,500 hours per year, according to officials.