As part of RIAC’s General Aviation Strategic Business Plan initiative and obligation under FAA Grant Assurance #20, we conducted an airspace obstruction survey and identification project for the Rhode Island airport system. Under this project, 1,816 obstruction data points were identified as either actual penetrations (758 or 42%) or near penetrations (1,058 or 58%, i.e., within 15 feet of becoming an actual penetration) to the runway approach surfaces. Due to the grant obligations, and magnitude of the obstructions identified, this is a priority program for RIAC, and progress towards removal of the obstructions is underway.
To that end, RIAC selected a consultant, through the FAA-compliant Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process, to implement and complete the obstruction removal program with RIAC’s oversight. This effort includes four primary elements:
1. Execution of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) Environmental Assessments (EA) for each airport;
2. Execution of the acquisition of avigation easements from landowners who have obstructions identified on their respective property through the appraisal and negotiations process;
3. Execution of the design and construction administration services (i.e., on and off airport obstruction removal); and,
4. Award and execution to and by the lowest tree removal contractor(s) for obstruction removal.
Due to the ongoing litigation related to the acquisition of avigation easements from property owners at Westerly State Airport, the completion of the obstruction removal program could potentially take several years. This situation has already led to the temporary displacement of runway thresholds at Westerly and Newport airports. Meanwhile, RIAC is moving forward with the NEPA process, and clearing of runway ends where residential avigation easements are not required.