The city is petitioning for a Federal Aviation Administration review of its approval of plans to build a $100 million air cargo facility to replace operations along Airport Road even though it has …
The city is petitioning for a Federal Aviation Administration review of its approval of plans to build a $100 million air cargo facility to replace operations along Airport Road even though it has not clearly defined its argument.
Steven Taber, a California attorney who specializes in aviation legislation and worked with the City Council when the airport lengthened Runway 5-23, was retained less than two weeks ago to prepare an analysis and report on the Environmental Assessment (EA) . Taber and his legal team, Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl of Pasadena, CA, had a narrow window to give the city his report and time enough to decide whether to petition for a review. The deadline to file for a petition is this Friday.
When the city didn’t get Taber’s report and analysis last Friday as he said he would, City Planner Thomas Kravitz said he expected it this week. On Tuesday, Mayor Frank Picozzi said Taber called to explain a key contact of his was on vacation and he was not fully prepared to give the city a recommendation. Rather than having the city lose the opportunity to question and perhaps challenge aspects of the air cargo facility plan, he recommended the city file a petition as a placeholder.
“If we don’t do that there is no recourse,” the mayor said.
From the day the Rhode Island Airport Corporation disclosed its master plan to relocate air cargo facilities to an area formally used for long term parking to the south of the terminal, the city voiced concerns of a possible access or egress on Main Avenue. Subsequently as RIAC moved ahead with the plan and retained AECOM to perform the EA, the administration expanded its concern to potential air cargo truck traffic on Post Road and using the Coronado Avenue overpass in the heart of City Centre to reach Jefferson Boulevard. With developers planning more than 1,100 apartment units in the area, the administration is looking to make City Centre pedestrian friendly. Also, the administration raised questions over air quality and noise in reviewing the EA. Kravitz wasn’t entirely happy with responses.
Warwick resident Michael Zarum who has closely followed airport developments for years and reviewed the EA and airport plans finds the EA “deficient.”
“I don’t think they looked into all the alternatives,” he said Tuesday. While the RIAC plan is for air cargo truck traffic to use the Airport Connector to Route 95, Zarum asks how trailers will make the turn from the cargo area to Airport Connector onramp without circling through the passenger arrival area. Zarum also says he hasn’t seen any plans for a rotary that RIAC has suggested could address the issue of access.
As a means of gauging noise and visual impacts of an air cargo facility, on a recent visit to Zarum walked around the air cargo operation at Boston Logan Airport. He brought along a noise meter to record decibel levels at the approximate distance residents on Strawberry Field Road West would get from the proposed facility here from trucks. He came up with “consistent” readings of 70 decibels.
“You don’t put tractor trailers across the street from somebody’s home,” he said.
Zarum accuses RIAC of “not disclosing everything” and avoiding community contact.
“There’s supposed to be transparency here and there isn’t,” he said.
Referring to RIAC President and CEO Iftikhar Ahmad , he said, “He doesn’t come out and meet the people; he’s a coward.”
In his letter of agreement, Taber wrote his analysis and report would focus on:
• The adequacy of the final EA in addressing concerns about noise and emissions from the facility.