Port Authority officials have presented a revised plan to expand one of the runways at John F. Kennedy International Airport, but residents of surrounding areas remain concerned that aircraft noise around their homes will still be a problem. The new plan was unveiled to community members at Elmont Library on Oct. 29, at a meeting hosted by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont).
As a result of concerns about a previous plan that would have meant the loss of an 800-tree noise buffer and the movement of the “threshold” — the point where airplane wheels touch down on the runway — a revised plan does not involve the relocation of the threshold or the removal of any trees, but still calls for lengthening the runway by 728 feet and widening it by 50 feet. There would be no change in the approach altitude of planes arriving on runway 22R (its designation for arrivals) or departures from runway 4L (its designation for planes that are taking off). The runway would also use concrete pavement instead of asphalt, because concrete would last 30 to 40 years. Asphalt’s life expectancy is 12 years.
Brian Simon, the director of governmental and community relations for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said that the expansion of 4L/22R would meet federal requirements for runway safety, and be as a better alternative than the original plan in helping to minimize airplane noise in surrounding towns.
“We didn’t want a community up in arms, and we had to make sure we comply with the Runway Safety Area standards in keeping that area safe,” Simon said, “because we bear a responsibility not only to make sure those flying to and from Kennedy Airport are safe, but those who live around the airport are equally safe.”
Many members of those communities, however, said they are skeptical that such changes will mitigate the airplane noise they have been coping with for years. William Cook, who has lived in Franklin Square for 12 years, said that the noise is unbearable, and has gotten worse.