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Queens is in the midst of an incredible period of economic growth, with billions of dollars in proposed construction and thousands of new residents expected in the next 20 years. The borough is home to two airports and they are the lifeblood of our local business community.
The city, however, is pursuing plans for a new garbage dump in front of LaGuardia Airport’s primary runway that will create a bird magnet that will make passengers less safe and have wide-ranging effects on our local economy. The lessons from US Airways 1549, the Miracle on the Hudson, are still fresh in our minds.
This facility will also create an obstruction preventing the installation of new aviation technology, which would increase safety and capacity and reduce delays into LaGuardia. These delays add up and amount to tens of millions of dollars of lost revenue and untold amounts of aggravation.
While this technology is a potential solution to the problem, plans for its installation were scuttled when the city passed the Solid Waste Management Plan in 2006. That legislation paved the way for the construction of a new 10-story marine transfer station in College Point, standing in front LaGuardia’s Runway 31.
Thousands of passengers fly into and out of the borough every day and their contribution to the local economy is immeasurable — especially now when investment in the borough is expected to skyrocket. The transfer station, 735 yards from the end of Runway 31, if completed, will block airport planners from ever pursuing installation of this new technology and limit our ability to effectively handle more passenger traffic to accommodate future aviation growth.
My office, at the Queens Chamber of Commerce, is across the highway from LaGuardia Airport. The proposed garbage transfer station is closer than that.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement of a $4 billion convention center financed entirely through the private sector is going to be a windfall for every industry in the area. A new convention and casino gaming center would draw countless people to the borough annually. Delta Airlines has also committed major resources by recently announcing 100 new flights and 29 new destinations from LaGuardia. The move will add up to 4 million new passenger seats without contributing to airport congestion. The expansion, Delta noted in a press release, will create 700 new jobs.
New York City is also projected to grow by 1 million people by 2030, and many of those people will end up living and working in Queens. We need reliable infrastructure now to accommodate the anticipated population growth. The North Shore garbage dump, however, will prevent not only the current precision approach technology from being used at Runway 31, but permanently prevent next-generation, satellite-based precision approach technologies.
We need first-rate roads, mass transit and airports to effectively get people from place to place. Can we expect 1950s technology to guide us smoothly into 2030s challenges?
Furthermore, the first-order costs of not installing this new approach technology are staggering. According to a study commissioned by the Friends of LaGuardia Airport, the commercial air carrier industry loses anywhere from $74 million to $183 million annually at the airport because of the lack of a precision approach. Approximately 500,000 to 1 million passengers are delayed every year as well.
Common sense tells you that siting a garbage station and known food source for birds so close to a runway greatly increases the risk of bird strikes at this location. The QCC has consistently voiced its opposition to the transfer station on safety grounds to the mayor’s office and federal government.
Good public policy supports the safety of people over the garbage plan. Politics should not prevail over common sense or doing the right thing.
We desperately need new infrastructure to handle the borough’s needs and the North Shore Marine Transfer Station will significantly impede the growth of jobs and airline traffic to move passengers in and out of local airports. It is not too late to stop this deadly idea from coming to fruition.
Support our airports. Support the use of modern technology and prevent another tragedy that the transfer station could potentially cause.
In the 1980s, Gov. Mario Cuomo shut the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant down before it could start operation. We ask that his son take the bold step of intervening and study if this garbage dump, too, is wrong for New York City.
Queens Chamber of Commerce
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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