T. F. Green Airport and the recently completed Interlink connecting rail project provide multiple transportation functions for people traveling to and from southern New England with unmatched ease and efficiency. This unique transportation hub has laid the foundation for our state’s economic success in a very competitive global environment. A critical component of ensuring the success of this hub is expanding the runway at T.F. Green to allow access to nonstop service to the West Coast for businesses in Southern New England and local residents.
Before deciding to allow the runway to expand, the Record of Decision (ROD) rendered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed a long and exhaustive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) study for the proposed runway extension. This process is federally regulated and designed to specifically identify environmental impacts of the underlying projects and then to design mandatory mitigation measures to offset such impacts. This has been a public process, which has provided an opportunity for input from many, including local residents, business professionals, city and state leaders as well as members of the Warwick City Council.
While we recognize the Council’s right to challenge the ROD, it is nevertheless troubling that a means within the EIS process could not have accommodated their interests. Commencing a formal legal challenge has already increased costs and delayed the employment of construction trades people in this time of severe economic hardship.
For years our respective members have supported this project because of the positive benefits to the airport and to economic development in the State.
The runway extension and associated construction projects will produce more than 1,300 well paying jobs. At a time when job creation is challenging in Rhode Island and with an unemployment rate of 10.8 percent and an unemployment rate approaching 40 percent in the construction industry, it is critical to our construction and trades workers, many of whom are Warwick residents, to have this opportunity.
The development of the Station District remains a top priority for Governor Chafee. Delaying the project will impede the ability to market this area. The runway extension is expected to offer increased air service opportunities to air carriers. There is a direct correlation between the success of the airport and that of the Station District. Development in that area will present hundreds more construction jobs as well.
A critical need exists to build a safer, better economic engine that will become a hub for businesses and leisure travelers in the 21st century.
The thousands of members, both local and statewide, that we represent have voiced their support and want these projects to move forward. Collectively, they believe the economic benefits of this project will yield an important payback for the host community and the entire state in the years to come.
We ask the Litigation Subcommittee: Council President Bruce Place, Councilman Steven Merolla and Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson, who also chairs the city’s Economic Development Committee, to handle this matter with the urgency that it deserves.
This is not only important to the state of Rhode Island, but to the City of Warwick and the Station District, which is an important focus of Warwick’s economic development efforts.
Improving and enhancing the state’s largest commercial airport is a key initiative for economic growth and job creation, which makes it critical that we move forward.
Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce
RI Building Construction Trades Council