To the Editor:
The Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) will hold another semi-secret public hearing tonight, Thursday, September 1 at 6:00 p.m. Advertised six months ago, with no additional information from RIAC released to the public since then, it will be held at Warwick's Radisson Hotel. The location is 2081 Post Road, just south of the airport. This hearing is required by the Rhode Island General Assembly to specifically discuss the roads impacted by airport expansion.
Just about everybody in town has forgotten about this hearing, and RIAC has done nothing to change the situation. The apparent hope is that nobody will show up. Let's change that outcome.
Anyone who is concerned about enclosing a relocated dark and curvy Main Avenue in a "canyon" of earthen noise barriers should attend this hearing. Although the hearing material filed at Warwick City Hall does not even show the path of this road or the proposed canyon, the state statute is all about that proposed road.
Anyone who is concerned about placing the intersection of Main Avenue and Industrial Drive on a curve, with the prospect of inadequate turning lanes and the challenges of merging with Mack trucks on a dark rainy night, should attend this hearing. Industrial Drive is not even on the map filed at the City Clerk's office. It's as if RIAC took an eraser and took the road away. But this road clearly exists, and the trailer trucks coming and going are a concern to those who use Main Avenue.
Several years ago, RIAC announced a hearing about the Intermodal Train Station on a Friday night, just before Memorial Day. Scheduled for the following Tuesday, it was the only financial hearing about this $300 million project that took hundreds of millions away from roads and bridges in Rhode Island. Nobody knew about the hearing. But it happened anyway, with just one "member of the public" attending whose main interest was trying to sell RIAC some office furniture. This is all reflected in the minutes of that hearing.
RIAC has no idea how it is going to come up with the $460 million required for this airport expansion project now being reviewed. Its president, Kevin Dillon, reports that this is a $165 million project. But it is not. The Environmental Impact Statement clearly shows a $460 million price tag.
RIAC is currently struggling to come up with its $32 million required share of the $165 million that Mr. Dillon talks about. This is what the FAA requires the people of Rhode Island to pay for a longer runway. The FAA will pay nothing toward the other $300 million. Let's not for one minute fantasize that the FAA money fairy is going to fly into town with the other $300 million.
The people of Rhode Island must come forward and tell the Rhode Island Airport Board that the party is over and we are not paying millions upon millions to cause safety issues on Main Avenue.
That's what this hearing is all about.