Digging down to make air cargo plan work?

Posted 2/29/24

To Editor,

Feeling a little like that concerned citizen who videotapes Warwick fire trucks on their Dave’s Market grocery runs, I followed a full-sized R.I. DOT snowplow coming through the …

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Digging down to make air cargo plan work?


To Editor,

Feeling a little like that concerned citizen who videotapes Warwick fire trucks on their Dave’s Market grocery runs, I followed a full-sized R.I. DOT snowplow coming through the T. F. Green terminal area during a recent snow squall. 

My mission: to figure out how much overhead clearance large trucks will have approaching the T. F. Green passenger terminal on their way to the proposed South Cargo Freight facility at PVD.

I was lucky to come upon the snowplow rumbling down the Airport Connector. I guessed that its flashing yellow lights were about nine to eleven feet above the ground -- a good measure for the upcoming overpass that the trucks will go under. RIAC does not have the yellow stripes with black lettered clearances on its passenger terminal arrival bridges. But the truck’s flashing lights were a serviceable measuring stick.

Following the snowplow down the arrivals road on the Airport Connector, I could see the departure bridge coming up where it “flies over” the arrivals road.  RIAC’s consultant, AECOM, has designed a rotary system to service the proposed South Cargo Freight terminal. AECOM draws in a right-hand sweep from the Airport Connector to Evans Avenue. It passes under the first segment of the flyover.

Watching the truck’s flashing lights where the right-hand sweep is proposed under the start of the flyover, it is clear that the flyover is way less than the required 13.5 feet. It seems likely that AECOM will need to have its contractor dig down three to four feet to make the rotary system work.

Years ago, when they built the I-15 in Phoenix, money was saved by dropping the highway down to go under overpasses for side streets. While rain was thought to be rare, they added big pumps to deal with rain events.  But here, I see no pumps. This is New England. It could rain for days. You need to lower the drainage systems by four to five feet. This is another environmental assessment and permitting nightmare: RIAC’s stormwater permit. Where will the water go?

Nikolas Persson, RIAC’s Vice President of Properties and Business Development, recently addressed the Freight Advisory Committee of the State Planning Council on the timing and funding for this proposed rotary. When questioned, he disclosed that the project will go out for bid before the end of February and that RIAC is planning for a $4 million to $5 million bid. He showed a slide identifying “local funding” as the source.

It turns out that he really meant federal highway funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation. He made a big point to the Freight Advisory Committee that RIAC does not use taxpayer funds for any of its operations. Yet now he wants your fuel taxes to build a RIAC South Cargo Freight facility, and to start the construction bid phase in February, before the Environmental Assessment for the Freight Terminal is complete.

Mr. Persson comes to Rhode Island from San Bernardino International Airport, the freight hub for Los Angeles with a major Amazon Air Freight operation. It has only one airline, Breeze, with two flights per week to Phoenix and three or four per week to San Francisco.  Mr. Persson is a freight specialist.

AECOM, the consultant that forgot to check out the bridge clearances on the RIAC project that lead to the now proposed rotary, is the company that has been inspecting the Washington Bridge in Providence. It also failed to find the structural defects of that bridge. What else may AECOM and Mr. Persson have overlooked? For starters, where to put the water from the holes they dig in the Airport Connector to make way for FedEx and UPS trucks headed for the proposed South Cargo Facility!  AECOM may also have forgotten to tell the public that Amazon will be taking over the North Freight facility when FedEx and UPS move to the new South Freight facility.

Finally, a word from my sagacious wife, who is editing this letter.  Says she: One way to address these hurdles would be scrap the project altogether. The noise, pollution, and congestion resulting from greatly increased air and land traffic would be of no value to the residents of Warwick and serve only to enrich those engaged in erecting and managing these roadways and structures. 

Richard and Jo-Ann Langseth



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  • latitude41

    Still fighting the airport and the states' economy after all these years with the same tactic of exaggeration and hyperbole. Even the term "Hub" is irresponsible. Green Airport is not destined to be a hub.

    " FedEx Express has 8 air hub locations within the US: Anchorage, Oakland, Fort Worth, Memphis, Miami,. Indianapolis, Greensboro, and Newark.

    UPS has five large regional air hubs in the United States, located in Ontario, California; Dallas, Texas; Rockford, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Atlanta, Georgia.

    Friday, March 1 Report this