FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY AND THE AIRPORT COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD ANNOUNCE FIRST PHASE OF QUEENS CAPITAL PROJECTS
First $39.5 Million of Projects will Include Improved Access to JFK and the Jamaica AirTrain Station, Greening and Streetscape Work and Important Traffic Studies
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Kenneth J. Ringler, Jr. and members of the Airport Community Advisory Board (CAB) today announced the first phase of the Queens capital projects funded through the 2004 airport-lease extension. The City, the Port Authority and the Advisory Board have come to a preliminary agreement on the first $39.5 million worth of projects, which include improvements to airport and AirTrain access, greening and streetscape work, and important traffic studies. Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff, New York City Economic Development Corporation Interim President Joshua J. Sirefman and City Council Members James Sanders, Joseph Addabbo, Jr., Melinda Katz, Peter Vallone, Jr., and Tom White, all members of the CAB, which also includes Council Members Leroy Comrie, John Liu and Hiram Monserrate, attended the announcement at City Hall.
“Just as investing in our airports is critical to New York City, so too is investing in the infrastructure that leads to the airports and in the communities that surround them,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “JFK and LaGuardia contribute billions to the New York City economy, and the airport industry serves as Queens’ second largest employer. By making our airports more accommodating and accessible, we can facilitate their growth, create even more jobs and ease the traffic burden in the region. I want to thank the Governor, the Port Authority, Borough President Marshall, Council Member James Sanders and all of the members of the Airport Community Advisory Board for their help selecting these important projects.”
“On behalf of the people of Queens and my fellow colleagues in the City Council, I wish to thank the Mayor, Governor and Port Authority for understanding that our airports are a mixed blessing,” said Council Member Sanders, who serves as Chairman of the CAB. “On one hand we all have enjoyed the ease of transportation, but on the other hand the people of Queens have borne the brunt of the negative aspects of the airports. We’re gratified that this day has come and that the people of Queens will see more benefits for having the airports, such as new greening and critical transportation improvements. We recognize this is not the end to a relationship, but the beginning of an even stronger one.”
“Each of these capital projects will improve transportation or spur economic development in some way here in Queens,” said Queens Borough President Marshall. “And, it is most appropriate that the renegotiation of the Airport Lease Agreement provided funding for projects that will benefit those residents most affected by airport-related issues. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor's Office and the Port Authority to explore funding ideas that will result in a reduction of aircraft noise and improve air quality for the tens of thousands of Queens residents living within close proximity to our airports.”
As part of the airport-lease extension signed by the City and the Port Authority in 2004, the Port Authority committed to fund $100 million worth of capital projects in Queens over five years. The projects, selected by the City, the Borough President, the Port Authority and the CAB, are designed to benefit the communities surrounding the airports and improve airport related-activities. The next round of projects will be reviewed in the following months, and an announcement is expected early next year.
“The historic agreement we signed in 2004 did not just secure the future of the airports, it helped pave the way for their growth,” said Deputy Mayor Doctoroff. “These projects will serve as an investment in Queens’ infrastructure, improving access to and from the airports and beautifying and easing traffic in the surrounding communities.”
“Our airport lease with the City of New York includes a provision earmarking $100 million for capital infrastructure in Queens because everyone agreed that the Queens community that has hosted the two New York airports for better than half a century rightly should be one of the biggest benefactors of the lease,” said Port Authority Executive Director Ringler. “We are pleased to work closely with Mayor Bloomberg and his staff and review today's proposals and expedite the investments so that our Queens neighbors and airport customers can reap the rewards.”
JFK Airport Access Improvements: About $15 million will be used to implement recommendations to improve cargo and passenger access to JFK that result from the feasibility study being conducted by the JFK Airport Access Task Force. The Task Force - created in June by Deputy Mayor Doctoroff and Port Authority Executive Director Kenneth Ringler to focus on improving the flow of passengers, employees and goods to and from JFK - is comprised of representatives from the City, State, Port Authority, major passenger and cargo service providers, the Partnership for New York City and other not-for-profit organizations. The study, which is expected to be completed in December 2006, will identify ways to improve access on roadways leading to JFK from the northern and southern routes.
Jamaica AirTrain Station Access Improvements: To improve automobile access to the Jamaica AirTrain station, $10 million will be used to create a pair of parallel, one-way streets on 94th and 95th Avenues that will ease traffic to and from the Station area and improve the pedestrian experience. Ridership on the AirTrain continues to soar, with about 14% of all travelers flying in or out of JFK, now riding it to or from the airport, and this investment will encourage even greater use in the future.
Streetscape and Traffic Improvements: Roughly $6.5 million will be used to implement streetscape and traffic improvements, including the addition of bus shelters, benches and bollards along Rockaway Boulevard, pedestrian walkway and lighting improvements at the intersection of Corona and National Streets, signage and signal improvements along Woodhaven and Crossbay Boulevards from Jamaica Avenue to the Belt Parkway, and improvements to the plaza at Beach 20th Street in downtown Far Rockaway.
Greening Improvements: About $4 million will go towards a number of greening improvements throughout Queens, including the installation of fencing, trees and foliage around McManus Memorial Park in Jamaica, tree plantings and other improvements at the intersections of Springfield Gardens and 147th Avenue, Rockaway and Springfield Boulevards and North and South Conduit Avenue and Linden Boulevard.
Willets Point Environmental Consultant Contract: An environmental consultant will prepare the Environmental Impact Statement, blight study, cost estimation, and preliminary design of project mitigation measures for the redevelopment of a 75-acre area in Willets Point, adjacent to Downtown Flushing, the most significant business district near LaGuardia.
Traffic Studies: About $1.5 million will be used to conduct a series of traffic studies to evaluate the possibility of a new westbound exit ramp at 73rd Street on the Grand Central Parkway to help alleviate congestion leading to LaGuardia, a new northbound exit on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway at 30th Avenue to improve access to the Bulova Corporate Center, and a new western entrance to the Flushing-Main Street subway station.
Restoration of Flushing Bay: About $500,000 will be used for the design and reconstruction of Pier II at the World's Fair Marina in Flushing Bay to serve as a potential pedestrian walkway to LaGuardia.
New York City's three major airports generated a combined $57 billion in economic activity for the region in 2005, and they are on pace to serve a record 103.5 million passengers in 2006, according to the Port Authority. Passenger traffic rose 4.5% during the first half of 2006, with JFK and LaGuardia handling more than 32 million passengers. The two Queens airports are responsible for 378,000 jobs, and the industry is the borough’s second biggest employer after the healthcare industry.
Stu Loeser / Jennifer Falk (212) 788-2958
Andrew Brent / Janel Patterson (Economic Development Corporation)
Pasquale DiFulco (Port Authority) (212) 435-7777
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