Local activists’ 30-year battle against runway expansion at Logan airport has collapsed as Runway 14/32 was commissioned at 12:01 a.m. Thanksgiving day.
The mile-long strip of runway is expected to cut delays during cold months. It will only be used when northwest winds gusting at 10 knots would normally shut Logan down to a single runway each for takeoffs and landings, causing delays of 15 minutes and longer, a Massport spokesperson said.
“The two weather conditions [northwest/southeast winds, 10 knots] have not prevailed, so we have not used the runway yet,” said Phil Orlandella, director of media relations at Logan.
Planes taking off from 14/32 will roar right over Jamaica Plain, a path local activists fought for years to repel.
Construction of the runway cost Massport millions of dollars to fight community activists and opposition from the offices of Mayor Thomas Menino and former Gov. Michael Dukakis.
“The impact this runway will have on us terrifies me,” said Anastasia Lyman, a JP resident. Lyman was part of the group Communities Against Runway Expansion (CARE) that, in conjunction with the City of Boston, sued Massport, but lost in court.
“It took five years of people’s time, and all we got out if it was some environmental litigation… environmental impact and a noise study,” she said.
“We like to have two runways for arrival and one for departure,” said Richard Walsh, a Massport spokesperson. “Before, when the wind blew from the northwest we only had one of each. Runway 14/32 will allow us to have two runways for arrival when the winds blow from the Northwest. It is for the optimal performance of the airport.”
Because the runway is only 5,000 feet long, it will serve smaller planes such as 50- and 70-seat regional jets.
A court order restricts Runway 14/32 to planes taking off and landing over Boston Harbor, and Massport is legally forbidden to let planes take off or land over South Boston and downtown. The runway can only be used about one-third of the year when winds are from the northwest or southeast.
Massport predicts that the new runway will reduce delays at Logan that aren’t related to poor weather or air traffic congestion along the East Coat by 25 percent and by up to 90 percent on some windy days, the Boston Globe said.
In November, 2003, Superior Court Judge Margot Botsford lifted a Dukakis-era airport expansion ban while imposing a series of conditions, approving construction of the runway. Those included allowing flight paths only over the harbor, enforcing restrictions based on the wind and increasing rush-hour flights if Logan congestion grew worse.
“We have had over 100 meetings and spoken with 1,000 participants,” said Walsh. “We hope we have found the balance between the needs of the airport and issues raised by the neighborhoods and communities.”
“We knew it was coming,” said Lyman, “but we find the timing insulting.”