October 23, 2014
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Pressured for airport deal
Reed, Avedisian join chorus for council agreement
TETE A TETE: Away from the microphones and the TV cameras, Gov. Chafee, Senator Jack Reed and RIAC CEO Kevin Dillon chat before Tuesday’s press conference.

As if the council hasn’t already heard the message from the governor, general treasurer, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and union leaders, Senator Jack Reed and Mayor Scott Avedisian joined Tuesday in the chorus calling on the council to reach an agreement enabling the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) to proceed with airport improvements that include a longer runway.

The press conference at the Mary Brennan Room of the Sundlun Terminal was billed as a briefing on recent passage of the $63.4 billion Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill that could provide an estimated $124 million for the Green Airport projects.

But the current status of talks between RIAC and the council, which resumed yesterday and are scheduled to continue today and tomorrow, took the spotlight.

“I’m hearing by the end of the week they’ll have a definite answer,” Avedisian said of negotiations. Last Wednesday the council committee presented RIAC CEO Kevin Dillon with a list of demands in exchange for dropping its appeal of the FAA’s approval of the projects. The appeal for a review of the “record of decision” was filed in Washington, D.C., and if pursued could delay the airport projects by a year if not longer.

State elected officials, the chamber and unions have been pressuring the council to drop its appeal both for the short- and long-term benefit of new jobs and the future of the state’s economy.

With Tuesday’s announcement, yet another issue raised by those calling for deliberative action – funding of the project – appeared to be addressed.

Dillon said he would meet the March 1 deadline for federal funding of the projects whether or not an agreement is reached with the council. He said he would prefer an agreement since the funding request could also include projects such as the relocation of the playing fields at Winslow Park.

There are no guarantees that funding will be available for the projects, but since the FAA has ranked safety overruns of Runway 16-34 as a priority, Dillon is reasonably confident RIAC will receive 75 percent funding of the $77 million project. The project will entail acquiring 10 businesses and the relocation of the Post and Airport Road intersection to the north.

Dillon is less certain of FAA funding of the runway extension estimated to cost $88 million. He would like 75 percent funding but is hopeful of “a minimum of 50 percent.”

Dillon said without the legislation the airport projects could not move ahead.

Approval of the FAA bill comes four years after the original law expired. President Obama signed it into law last week.

Reed, Gov. Chafee and Avedisian addressed the media. In the audience were council members Joseph Solomon (D-Ward 4) and Charles Donovan Jr. (D-Ward 7), who had voted to appeal the FAA decision.

Reed said extending the runway would attract new business and high-quality jobs to Rhode Island.

“We have a chance to modernize the airport to accommodate bigger planes and transatlantic flights, connecting Rhode Island to the world. Now that the FAA bill has been signed into law, we must seize this opportunity to get this project off the ground,” he said in a statement.

Reed said gaining passage of the bill “was not an easy process,” nor is the bill perfect. Yet, he added, it is a pathway to secure funding and he stressed the need for Green to make the safety improvements and extend the runway so the airport has the infrastructure for future growth.

Chafee said his visits to other parts of the country, as well as technological developments resulting in quieter aircraft engines, has changed his thinking about the airport. He said he now views the airport as an “economic engine” for the state.

In comments prior to the press conference, Dillon said funding for the legislation “comes from user fees,” or a 7.5-percent ticket charge that flows into the Aviation Trust Fund.

“It is not coming from the general fund or the income tax,” he said.

The funding is separate from the $4.50 passenger facility charge (PFC) that enplaning passengers pay and is earmarked specifically for the originating airport, Dillon said. The PFCs and bonds are traditionally used to make up the matching share of a project cost.

“We never use O&M [operations and maintenance] reserves,” Dillon said.


Comments
8 comments on this item

Glad to hear the Senator is on board. More and more top officials are joining the effort. I personally have contacted the FAA and the White House with the request for this project to begin a.s.a.p. with the full support of the government.

If we are going to ever see RI become prosperous again we need this airport to become it maximum potential

The real survey the Beacon should have published is that Chafee's popularity is down to 22%!!!!!!

Now - If Chafee told you that the projected costs disclosed in the EIS are over $550 million and your Senator told you the feds will kick in around $125 million and you are a RI taxpayer and knew the gov. wants to float bonds to make up the approx $400 millions shortfall, and raise taxes, charge the airlines more, and have increased airline ticket prices - WOULD YOU THEN BE IN FAVOR OR THE EXPANSION? If you are in favor, you will pay one way or another, increased taxes, increased airfares, increased parking rates, there is nothing good in this for the general population, it only benefits the construction trades who are willing to bankrupt the state with its unsustainable overbuilding.

Chafee and his construction trades lobbyists will suck this state dry of money by sticking us with a 20 year I-0-U .....Open your wallets now and get with the facts the airport and Chafee are hiding from you. Don't believe a word from the airport's Mr. Dillon, Governor Chafee, Senator Reed as they care only about themselves. Case and point the $30 million that Gov Carcieri siphoned from the falling down bridge programs to finish the interlink is on the edge of insolvency and has Buddy's empty Ghost Trains!

How many financial disasters has this state had? TF Green is next. With the US economy down and passengers traveling less, and fuel prices soaring, watch RIAC's financials tank even more as summer gets here. Don't believe me? Hee Hee Hee. Avedisian says - Warwick City on the Move, as more and more leave Warwick and the State of RI due to its corruption and poor fiscal management due to cronyism.

To Michael2012

The a longer runway is not going to bring back a state economy brought down by loss of manufacturing industry, loss of military bases, labor lacking today's needed skills, high energy costs, a state known for corrupt behavior in business practices, political corruption of which the airport is a prime example.

And here's a statement from the FAA "Facility improvements should not be initiated unless the actual demand justifies a particular project, it is environmentally approved, and proven to be financially feasible."

Certain projects are worth the cost to build.

I just read that TF Green Airport passengers have increased.

The U.S. economy is recovering and with construction projects for infrastructure improvements going to lead the way. California is going to building a high speed rail costing billions.

Fuel prices are something we will have to deal with until the U.S. gets serious about an energy policy.

RI's corruption has nothing to do with the airport expansion.

$550 million really isn't a lot of money for a project that will generate billions for the state over time.

We have to invest in order to be prosperous. Status quo isn't working. The only way to get out of a recession is by putting people to work. Unemployment is the cancer.

Only airline running full-sized airplanes out of Green with an increase in passenger counts was USAirways. This is because Southwest dropped service to Philadelphia. All others, Southwest, Delta, and United reported lower enplanements for their full-sized fleets with Southwest reporting a 4% decline.

Now USAirways has reported to its shareholders that it plans to leave Philadelphia unless that airport cans its plans to extend a runway and drive up costs to airlines. This would devastate Philadelphia where three out of four planes using that airport are USAirways. USAirways did the same thing in Pittsburgh leaving that airport in financial ruin. Costs were too high there too after an unneeded expansion.

If USAirways pulls out of Philadelphia it will have a major impact on full-sized plane service at Green. As the Rhode Island Airport Corporation keeps raising its landing fees (based on the weight of full planes - even if they are empty) the airlines will all go away or convert to turboprops or regional jet service. This is not a theoretical. It is already happening at Green. The USAirways threat to end service to Philadelphia is just the tip of the ice berg.

Michael 2012:

" ...RI's corruption has nothing to do with the airport expansion."

You think?...

Then who corrupted the airport planning process by manipulating the involvement of an entire Stakeholder group?

And what's behind the fear of an external federal review of the process to ensure that fraud isn't a part of it?

Do you really think the opposition is all about jobs? Might it be more about "business as usual" in Rhode Island?

You are to be commended for your involvement. Try to step back for a minute and look at what is happening... Could you list the valid concerns of the citizenry, and which ones have been completely avoided?.. Do you care if they might have been serious?... Do you care if they may ultimately cost the state more than the short term benefit of some construction jobs... Do you care if they might cost us the airport ss it is, never mind an expanded one. There are serious federal airport planning process issues involved here. It goes way beyond RIAC and the City Council. They won't go away if the City Council drops its legal challenge.

Michael 2012 aka Michael F. Sabitoni of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council.. He is not looking out for residents of Warwick, Rhode Island, or our Business.. He is only looking out for those in trade unions... He obviously doesn't care about health or safety of ourselves and our children. Just making sure his union palls get lots of federal money.. Heh. I hope he doesn't call the FAA and the whitehouse because I posted this!

So how much do you stand to rake in from this deal?

He can be reached at (401) 331-9682 Please give him a call, and ask him why a few hundred temporary construction jobs need to be pushed through, and not be reviewed by a Federal court to determine if the proper planning and study has happened here. You should also ask him if he will be willing to help out financially when your home near the airport isn't able to be sold, because your just outside the Land Acq. Program. Or if he will help somehow when you develop lung cancer from all the airplane soot. Heck, maybe hell come by on a weekend and help move you out, or soundproof your house for nothing! What a nice guy huh? I guess he doesn't care if a large air liner crashes into a neighborhood full of people. Guess why?

He doesn't live here, and he could care less about those who do. Just like Chaffee, our great Governor pushing this expansion, he has lots of favors to payback those union people who vote em' in!

(401) 331-9682 Please give him a call and ask what he will be doing to help the City out..

http://www.buildri.org/r21/contact.php

This Michael2012 is a union rep, (401) 553-2100 Ask for Michael Sabitono

Quoted from their website:

Since its inception BuildRI has met with countless developers, institutional users, and public entities to convey the benefits of using union contractors who employ professional tradesmen and women. During that time we have negotiated Project Labor Agreements and Memorandums of Agreements for prominent, complex construction projects worth billions of dollars across Rhode Island.

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