Mayor, airport up against a wall

RIAC going ahead with air cargo facility, sans protective wall for now

Posted 11/16/23

The Rhode Island Airport Corporation has tapped the breaks but isn’t going to stop with plans a $100 million air cargo facility to replace current UPS and FedEx operations adjacent to Airport …

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Mayor, airport up against a wall

RIAC going ahead with air cargo facility, sans protective wall for now


The Rhode Island Airport Corporation has tapped the breaks but isn’t going to stop with plans a $100 million air cargo facility to replace current UPS and FedEx operations adjacent to Airport Road.

In response to Warwick Beacon questions whether work on the south air cargo facility would proceed this month even though the City Council has not considered the sale of the rights of way to three streets in the area of a proposed earthen berm and wall to insulate the adjoining residential community from visual and noise pollution, John Goodman, assistant vice president of media and public relations wrote the following email Friday:

“At this time RIAC is going to let the FAA regulatory process play out and the estimated time frame is about 2 years. If and when we have any updates, we will reach out to you.”

Asked if this meant site preparation would not commence this month as planned, Goodman replied by email, “To clarify, the two year timeline is for the City’s legal challenge of the EA (Environmental Assessment). As we indicated in our letter to the City, we’re moving forward with the project albeit without the wall at this time as we do not have the property rights from the city.”

Through its attorney Steve Taber, who represented the city when RIAC sought FAA approval to lengthen Runway 5-25, the airport’s main south/north runway so as to provide the capability of non stop coast to coast flights, the city filed a motion to intervene in the FAA’s findings of the air cargo proposal. Earlier this year the FAA issued a FONSI, (finding of no significant impact) of the environmental assessment of the project performed by AECOM for RIAC.

During the process of the EA, the city pressed for the extension of the berm alongside Strawberry Field Road West to Post Road and an on airport traffic system what would enable vehicles, especially large trailer trucks, to access the Airport Connector without traveling on local roads.

RIAC officials verbally agreed to the city’s requests, getting the FAA to agree to the berm and wall although it will not pay for it because it finds it of little value. RIAC has indicated it will pay for the wall but not to the full length sought by the city. RIAC is also seeking bids for the design of a rotary to enable tractor trailers to access the Airport Connector without circulating in front of the terminal or using local roads.

Mayor Frank Picozzi is adamant that air cargo vehicles not have access to Main Avenue that could bring additional traffic on Greenwood Bridge and the stretch of Main Avenue to Route 95.

Picozzi knows of RIAC’s promises, but he’s not prepared to sign off on the sale of the rights of way or the FONSI.

“If you’re giving us everything we want,” Picozzi said of RIAC on Saturday, “then write it down. It’s as simple as that.”

Picozzi said he’s learned from his budget agreement with schools to appropriate additional funds with the caveat if the state increased funding the money would go to the city. When the state increased the funding, however, schools successfully argued to keep about $700,000 the mayor thought should go back to the city. He wants an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with RIAC.

“It’s (RIAC) a government agency, it’s not a hand shake deal,” he said.

The air cargo facility according to the EA prepared by AECOM would consist of the following:

 “The Proposed Action would meet the need for modern cargo facilities that satisfy current design standards for safe and efficient cargo operations at PVD.

To meet the demand for FedEx and UPS cargo operations, the primary objectives are:

▪ Provide a site exclusively for air cargo airline operations that can accommodate one or two cargo buildings with up to 140,000 square feet of multi-use space, and apron space for six wide-body freighter aircraft and sufficient truck and employee parking for both carriers;

 ▪ Provide airfield access for cargo aircraft to taxi between cargo facilities and runways that avoid general aviation areas;

▪ Provide a site with roadway access to enable transfer of cargo via truck with a convenient route to and from off-airport cargo handling facilities and other major surface transportation corridors;

 ▪ Provide a site (layout) that complies with applicable FAA standards for airport design.”

What would be different than from today’s operations?

Under the proposed action, FedEx flight operations would increase, and the fleet mix would change. Based on the improved service scenario, the existing B757-200 freighters would be replaced by B767-300 freighters. Both are twin-engine jets. The main difference is the former is a large narrow-body and the latter is a medium wide-body. Compared to the B757-200F, the B767-300F fuselage is longer, the wingspan is wider, and the engines can produce more thrust, which allows the B767-300F to carry 60% more cargo payload. In addition, scheduled cargo aircraft operations would increase by two arrivals and two departures per day on average, beginning approximately one hour earlier than the current schedule to allow additional time to transfer cargo from the aircraft to the trucks for the trip north to Boston. FedEx truck traffic operations would increase from 36 to 69 trucks per day, with an estimated 70% to 80% of the trucks destined for Boston markets. UPS flight operations are not expected to change immediately or dramatically at the new location, the report says. If built, the facility, there is allowance for UPS to increase cargo volume by also changing aircraft from the 757-200F to the larger B767-300F, and to increase from two to three arrivals per day, on average. As a result of the added air cargo volume, UPS truck operations would increase from four to eight trucks per day.

For planning and evaluation purposes, it is anticipated that UPS would continue to transfer pre-packed containers to and from its Jefferson Boulevard center for the foreseeable future.

Employee and truck traffic is expected to increase based on increased shipping capacity as well as meeting latent shipping demands. Under the Proposed Action, an estimated 77 tractor-trailers are estimated to use the new facility per day: a net increase of 37 tractor-trailers over the existing (No Build) condition. To keep deliveries and downstream shipping operations on schedule, shipping operations typically take place outside of typical morning and evening commuting hours to avoid delays during hours of heavy traffic. According to the TIA, the proposed action has the potential to generate 40 AM Peak hour trips and 34 PM Peak hour trips (employee and truck traffic) with 7 trucks in the AM Peak hour and 3 trucks in the PM Peak hour.

mayor, airport, air cargo


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  • stanri

    Thanks to Mayor Picozzi for standing up to RIAC and their continued attempts to "strong arm the City". Too many times past administrations bowed down to RIAC or turned a blind eye. We finally have a Mayor who truly cares about the City and her residents.

    Thursday, November 16, 2023 Report this