Funding announced for final phase to acquire 115 airport homes
The Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) will receive $5 million for the fifth and final phase of its voluntary program to acquire 115 homes, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) announced last week.
The properties where owners will have the option to sell were identified under the “no build option” of the 2020 master plan and have nothing to do with the planned extension of the main runway from 7,166 to 8,700 feet.
An additional 64 properties have been identified as being in the runway protection zone of the longer runway and are to be acquired as part of that $83 million project. Also, as part of the extension project, RIAC will acquire 18 properties in order to realign Main Avenue. RIAC is still waiting to hear at what level that project would be funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Additional properties may become eligible for acquisition after the extension is operational and when they fall within the 70-decibel noise contour, Peter Frazier, RIAC interim president & CEO said yesterday.
“This federal funding will provide a $5 million boost for the voluntary home acquisition program and help diminish the aircraft noise impact on residential areas. It should help some of the neighborhoods around the airport and ensure the airport remains a good neighbor,” Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee, which oversees federal funding for the program, said in a statement. Over the years, Reed has helped increase FAA funds for soundproofing at T.F. Green and worked with FAA officials to study the issue to determine how noise from increased airport traffic may be abated.
Frazier said Phase 4 of the program that is in various stages of completion involves the acquisition of 43 properties. The latest round of funding, he said, “will allow us to keep the ball rolling.” RIAC will match the $5 million with $1,250,000.
This phase of the voluntary acquisition program, which includes expenses for relocation, is concentrated at the southerly end of Runway 5-23. The program is being coordinated by WD Schock Co.
“We are trying to program houses [for voluntary acquisition] in order of impact and logical cluster,” Frazier said.
He said the phase should be completed by January 2014.
According to RIAC records, Frazier said the agency has acquired 325 properties since it started acquiring properties. He put the cost of the current five-phase program to acquire 115 parcels at $36.9 million, of which $7.4 million are RIAC funds.
Asked about the RIAC memorandum of understanding with the city, which requires notification to property owners when they might become eligible for buyouts, Frazier said he expects those announcements would come once the financial plan is finalized. That is dependent on FAA funding, and a decision may come as soon as the end of this month.
If, for some reason, the financial plan is not finalized by then, Frazier said RIAC would be talking with the city administration to seek an extension.
Stressing that RIAC wants “to do it right,” Frazier said, “We’re trying to move with all due haste.”