2012-06-20 / Features

1996

New Control Tower At LaGuardia Was A Community Concern

ccording to representatives of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey proposed traffic rerouting for access and egress to LaGuardia Airport was effective.

However, an East Elmhurst resident representing both a citizens group and the Airport Committee of

Community Board 3 begged to differ as reported in the Mar. 20, 1996 issue of the Gazette.

Shirley Clark of the East Elmhurst Roadway Association and speaking for Hamlet Wallace, chairman of the CB 3 Airport Committee, said that hearings on January 10, 31 and March 7 had brought out staunch opposition to the PA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The inch and a half- thick EIS, on file at the East Elmhurst, Corona and Langston Hughes library branches, was riddled with errors, Clark pointed out. “In the draft, they said that 580 cars go Eastbound from 94th Street and 120 more enter the airport at 96th Street. They say that 70 cars come Westbound onto Astoria Boulevard. I told them, ‘If you can’t count the cars, how can you count the people?’ You can’t throw extra traffic in there-it’s too crowded now.”

The draft, the PA spokesman pointed out, covers 25 categories of impact on environment and quality of life and before any sort of construction can proceed.

“We tried to address them all,” He said.

There were concerns also addressed about noise pollution and the height of the proposed new control tower.

Clarke argued that the height of the current tower is 12 stories but the new one is to be 26 stories.

“Computers are smaller,” she said. “They didn’t get larger. If the equipment is smaller, why do they want to make it 26 stories high?”

Today, congestion is still a problem in the area of LaGuardia Airport. In 2007, ground was broken for the new control tower at LaGuardia, which opened in 2010.

The existing tower opened just before the 1964 World’s Fair opened. Congressmember Joseph Crowley noted that air traffic controllers assigned there have been plagued by the decrepit state of the tower, which has developed leaks and had water pouring into it.

Compared to the old tower, where personnel worked in cramped quarters on outdated equipment, the new tower is 233 feet tall, more than twice the height of the existing one, and the working space is twice that of the current tower.

The new tower has modern, improved high-tech equipment, which gives the controllers the ability to operate with greater efficiency in directing flight operations.

Controllers also have the capability, using state of the art viewing equipment, to see objects more clearly on taxiways and runways without requiring visual confirmation.—Jason D. Antos

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