The federal court appeal filed by Warwick City Council to the Federal Aviation Administration plan to expand T.F. Green Airport is not what the doctor ordered for a state with double-digit unemployment and a struggling economy.
This latest stalling technique, coming after years of Mayor Scott Avedisian’s challenging the FAA and the R.I. Airport Corporation on the details of the runway expansion and realignment, along with other upgrades to T.F. Green, will accomplish little in terms of changing what does happen.
What it will do, however, is keep the airport from recovering from its four-year slide in passenger traffic. And it most certainly makes the likelihood that short- and long-term job creation will happen at T.F. Green more remote by the day.
The city leaders, even if one assumes they believe in the project but just don’t feel like they have all the information they need, are clearly not attuned to how the hypercompetitive air- transportation business is operating these days.
Companies make decisions based on the numbers, for sure, but they also want to see rational, predictable behavior in the public sphere where they are looking to operate.
So no matter how well T.F. Green is situated in southeastern New England for passenger or freight traffic, it is not the only game in town. Airport Corporation CEO Kevin Dillon says that T.F. Green is already losing ground to other facilities, and the numbers support his position.
A decade of back and forth with Mayor Avedisian certainly has collected all the answers there were to get, leaving only the groundbreaking to come. It is time to stop the delays and start to put shovels in the ground. Anything short of that borders on the criminal.
One final note. Let’s hope that Warwick’s citizens hold the City Council accountable in the next election for its ill-conceived action. •
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