By Jennifer R Jones | Posted on August 03, 2009 8:57 PM
A major makeover is taking place on one of the longest and busiest commercial airport runways in the U.S.: the Bay Runway (runway 13R-31L) at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens. The runway will be reconstructed, receiving a new drainage system, electrical infrastructure, and will be widened by 50 feet to a total 200 feet. Gov. David Paterson kicked off the $376 million project on July 28. It's expected to cut flight delays and reduce congestion, something the airport is notorious for. JFK ranks as one of the top airports in flight delays nationwide. This project is part of the JFK Delay Reduction Program. More than 143,000 takeoffs and landings took place on this runway in 2008. The expansion will not only reduce delays, it will improve airport operations and support about 2,500 jobs. The improvements will mean replacing old asphalt with an 18-inch concrete overlay. Concrete has a lifespan of nearly five times more than asphalt. It will also save money long term and will reduce the need for more maintenance. It is expected that the reconstruction will reduce flight delays by an estimated 10,500 hours per year. During the runway makeover, air traffic will be shifted to three other runways at JFK, causing a temporary headache that will supposedly be worth it in the end. The Bay Runway will be closed for about four months next year. The project is expected to be complete November 2011.