WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) - The Rhode Island Airport Corporation has voted unanimously to approve an agreement with the Warwick City Council - giving the green light to the expansion plans at T.F. Green Airport.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee attended RIAC's meeting Thursday morning.
"This is all about the economy in Rhode Island and positive things happening in Rhode Island. I've always said since I was elected mayor in 1992, so it's been 20 years, that this is an economic asset - having an airport, having the rail line, having the highway, it's a natural for economic growth," Chafee said.
The project has its downsides as well.
"I know there's some negatives involved in this, we talked about the home acquisitions that we're going to have to do. I know that it is going to be hard on people...nothing good comes without some pain somewhere," said Kathleen Hittner.
"I commend the efforts by members of the City Council and the Airport Corporation to work together on addressing residents' concerns and ensuring the state can move toward receiving the vital economic benefits of this expansion. The combination of this development with the new intermodal transportation center will be of great value to the traveling public and a strong engine for improving Rhode Island's economy in the long term," Congressman Jim Langevin said.
Wednesday night, Warwick's City Council voted unanimously in favor of an agreement officials say contains health and safety protections for local residents.
The city also agreed to withdraw its lawsuit challenging the Federal Aviation Administration's approval of the project.
The $165 million project calls for extending T.F. Green's main runway by 1,500 feet and improving safety to a secondary runway. The project received a big boost last week after President Obama signed a bill into law that would funnel federal funds toward the airport improvements.
The rest of the money will come from user fees, parking fees and concessions and such. No money will come from taxpayers.
"It was a little turbulent there for a while, but I am pleased all parties worked together to reach an agreement to modernize T.F. Green Airport and attract new business and jobs to Rhode Island. Now we must seize this opportunity to get this project off the ground," said Senator Jack Reed.
Officials say a longer runway allows planes to carry heavier loads and more fuel for longer national and international flights.
The expansion is expected to take about four years to complete.
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