Money, Agreement Could Make T.F. Green Expansion Done Deal

The runway expansion project at T.F. Green Airport has been debated back and forth for years, but now the controversial plan is closer than ever to becoming a done deal.

The green light could come soon for two reasons. Fire, there is new federal funding available to back the project. Second, airport officials are nearing an agreement with the city council, who recently filed a lawsuit against the plan.

Property owners were listening closely as the announcement was made today because if the runway expands, the airport would have to demolish some nearby homes. The noise would be so loud at Tom Mercurio's home on Gladys Court that he would have the option of selling it to the airport. It is an option he says he will take, he just wants to know when it is going to happen.

“It is a life of uncertainty,” Mercurio said. “You can't remodel your house because of it. So my theory is, if you're gonna take it, take it. If not, let us know so we can get on with our lives.”

U.S. Senator Jack Reed announced new funding Tuesday that could put an end to the uncertainty.

“It's a long term law that will provide nearly $64 billion in funding for the operation development of the aviation system throughout the United States,” Reed said.

Rhode Island has to apply to get a chunk of the money by March 1st.

“In essence, we're looking to get $124 million related to the runway project,” Kevin Dillon of the RI Airport Corporation said.

However, money is not the only obstacle they have to overcome. The Warwick City Council recently filed a lawsuit against the runway expansion plan.

“The main concern of the council was the health, safety and well-being of the general public,” City Councilor Joseph Solomon said.

The City Council says it could drop the lawsuit and reach an agreement with airport officials as soon as this week. If that happens and the federal money comes through, initial construction planning would begin almost immediately.

After 12 years of waiting, that is exactly was Mercurio wants to hear.

“I'm not getting any younger, so I'd like them to do it sooner, rather than later.”