City Urges FAA: Trim T.F. Green Airport Runway Expansion

WARWICK - The city has urged the Federal Aviation Administration to scale back its runway-extension plan for T.F. Green Airport and to consider expanding Quonset State Airport, in North Kingstown, to absorb at least some of the cargo-plane traffic at Green.

The FAA proposes to extend Green's main runway by 2,184 feet, to 9,350 feet, primarily to accommodate nonstop flights to the West Coast. An FAA consultant last month offered five options for accomplishing that, all of which entail taking more houses around the airport and most requiring the relocation of Airport Road and Main Avenue, the two main arteries flanking Green.

The city, in a formal reponse crafted primarily by principal planner William J. DePasquale and submitted to the FAA last week, said newer-model aircraft capable of flights to the West Coast require a shorter runway than the agency envisions. An 8,600-foot-long runway could accommodate 80 percent of the planes that make that trip, it contended.

The city's report mentioned Boeing's new 737-300ER and 757-200.

The city contends that the analysis prepared by the FAA's consultant, Vanasse, Hangen Brustlin LLC, failed to take into account the latest aircraft technology. The consultant uses the Boeing 767 as the base aircraft for the study, while Warwick says that its primary carriers use smaller, newer, more efficient planes, which should have been the focus of the study.

Five years ago, for instance, T.F. Green's runway was too short to allow for nonstop flights to Las Vegas. Those routes are now a reality, the city stated.

Quonset State Airport, which accommodates general aviation and Air National Guard aircraft, could be established as a major cargo alternative, easing some of the pressure on Green the city said. It contended that the FAA consultant gave that idea only cursory examination and did not include plans already in place for improving Quonset's facilities into its own analysis.

"The analysis of Quonset Airport is grossly inadequate in even the most basic areas of study," the city said.

Vanasse Hangen Brustlin referred a request for comment to the FAA, whose spokesman Jim Peters said the consultant "did what we asked them to do. They did a very thorough job in analyzing the alternatives analysis. Now we will review all the comments the city has submitted to us."

The city, in its report, said that lengthening the runway could be self-defeating for T.F. Green. If it brings the influx of passengers the FAA foresees, it said, the airport could become too crowded, producing baggage, ticketing, security and takeoff delays.

The FAA expects to narrow its focus to one option by the late fall or early winter.

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