Community Board 13 reviewed the Port Authority’s plan to repave a runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport and criticized the MTA for proposing to cut bus routes in southeast Queens during its monthly meeting Monday night.
Ralph Tragale, manager of government and community relations for the Port Authority, said the agency’s board of commissioners approved the plan last week to repave one of the airport’s three runways next year. The contract for the job is worth $375 million, he said.
Tragale said the runway is 14,000 feet and one of the longest in the country.
The runway will be closed between 90 and 100 days for the construction, which is scheduled to start in the spring of next year, Tragale said.
The runway will be repaved using concrete, he said, and the new pavement is expected to last for 40 years. He said runways at the airport are mostly repaved with asphalt and that material lasts for between eight and 10 years.
Tragale said the project will create 1,000 construction jobs at its peak.
CB 13 members and the community wanted to ensure that the jobs would go to community residents. Tragale said the Port Authority cannot require the winning bidder to hire from the community, but he said the agency will ensure that jobs do go to those who live near JFK.
Anthony Estes, a member of the public who attended the board meeting at a Queens Village church, said he was skeptical.
“I’ve yet to know anybody where I live who has gotten any of those jobs,” he said, referring to similar promises made for other large projects. “Something needs to be done.”
The board also heard from Joe Raskin of New York City Transit, who told CB 13 that the agency is planning on eliminating service on the Q84 as well as weekend service on the Q79 and implementing a cut in operating hours on weekdays for the Q79.
CB 13 Executive Secretary Brian Block said the Q84, which runs in southeast Queens, should not be cut.
“There’s no way you can eliminate the Q84,” he said. “That’s totally unacceptable for Cambria Heights.”
If the plan goes through, Block said, Cambria Heights residents would have to walk to Linden Boulevard, where there has been a rash of rapes, in the middle of the night to get the bus.
“The clown that made this decision does not live down here,” he said.
Block said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority showed “insensitivity” toward the black community by scheduling a public hearing on the proposed cuts on Jan. 20, when President Barack Obama was inaugurated.
“You should know what’s going on in southeast Queens on Jan. 20,” Block told Raskin. “I have never been so insulted. You would not schedule a meeting for Friday night in Forest Hills when you know that community is in shul.”
Raskin said he would raise Block’s point to the agency and said it would consider holding another public hearing.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz
©2009 Community News Group
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