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Port Authority agreement reached to expand truck parking at JFK Airport, bringing relief to southeast Queens streets

Nov. 22, 2023 By Bill Parry

Southeast Queens residents have complained of illegal truck parking around JFK Airport for years, a quality-of-life issue that was exasperated during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Nov. 21, the Port Authority Board of Governors approved a lease supplement with JFK AP LLC, the operator of a truck parking, fueling and concessions at the airport that will triple the number of the facility’s truck parking spaces to accommodate the growth in cargo volume at JFK and help reduce the number of trucks parking on residential streets and airport roads.

“Revising this lease is a win for the community that has seen an increase in trucks parking and idling on their streets, it’s a win for the environment and it’s a win for the drivers who help to keep our region moving,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “This is another example of how the Port Authority has been working closely with our neighbors to improve conditions for the community and connect local residents and businesses to the economic opportunities that modern new airports present.”

Cambria Heights resident James Johnson, a former City Council candidate who was named executive director of GatewayJFK in August, made eradicating illegal truck parking around JFK one of his top priorities.

GatewayJFK executive director James Johnson found many examples of illegal truck parking on the streets of southeast Queens the morning after the Port Authority announced a plan to expand the JFK Airport Plaza tripling the number of truck parking spots.Courtesy of GatewayJFK

GatewayJFK executive director James Johnson found many examples of illegal truck parking on the streets of southeast Queens the morning after the Port Authority announced a plan to expand the JFK Airport Plaza tripling the number of truck parking spots.Courtesy of GatewayJFK

“I am thrilled to witness the Port Authority’s bold initiative to address the longstanding challenge of truck parking scarcity in the southeast Queens community,” Johnson said. “This scarcity not only impacts our valued commercial tenants and retail businesses but also resonates with the everyday lives of our residential homeowners. The expansion of the JFK International Airport Truck Plaza is a testament to the Port Authority’s commitment to finding robust solutions that acknowledge and value the intricate balance between industrial demands and the well-being of our communities.”

GatewayJFK is a public-private partnership providing neighborhood services, improvements and advocacy for the district’s off-airport cargo community and all who live, work or visit the area.

“This is a proactive step in the right direction that will not only alleviate immediate concerns but also contribute significantly to the overall enhancement of our district’s economic and residential landscape, benefiting over 150 homeowners and 500 businesses within the business improvement district who have been adversely affected due to the lack of proper truck parking facilities,” Johnson said.

A city crackdown on illegal truck parking in southeast Queens last year did little to mitigate the quality-of-life issue.Courtesy of the Mayor’s Office

Expanding the parking facility was identified as a priority for the Port Authority due to a surge in online commerce that began during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cargo volume at the airport in 2022 increased by 10 percent compared with 2019, prompting an increase in trucking activity.

“With parking at a premium and both improving street safety and air quality being of critical importance in southeast Queens, the tripling the truck parking capacity at JFK Airport is a massive victory for the families who call these communities home,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “I know the Port Authority is committed to ensuring the communities around JFK Airport are some of the biggest beneficiaries of its $19 billion redevelopment, and efforts like this are vital in support of that mission. I look forward to working with the Port Authority and others to continue to deliver for southeast Queens families.”

The revised lease also requires that the parking and concessions operator makes a good faith effort to attain Port Authority goals for participation by minority (MBE) and women-owned business enterprises (WBE) as well as service-disabled veteran-owned businesses (SDVB) as follows: 20% MBE, 10% WBE and 3% SDVB with respect to all procurement, construction and subcontracting opportunities.

“This initiative not only ensures a significant boost in operational efficiency, but is also beneficial to our community,” U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks said. “The approved lease revision takes a pivotal role in fostering the creation of both direct and indirect employment opportunities. Prioritizing minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) and local contracting establishes avenues for widespread community involvement, guaranteeing a multitude of advantages. This comprehensive endeavor is dedicated to fortifying a resilient, sustainable, and community-centric transportation hub, ultimately elevating the overall well-being of our district.”

Under the revised lease, the JFK Airport Plaza has committed to invest a minimum of $14 million for the demolition of Building 110 to make way for a larger truck parking facility, which will also include a truck wash, more electric vehicle charging stations, and a new concessions building. This new development will complement the existing plaza.

“Illegal truck parking turns residential communities in southeast Queens into lots for tractor trailers,” Council Member Selvena.Brooks-Powers said. “Additional truck parking is essential not only for our communities, but truckers as well, who lack practicable overnight parking options. I appreciate the Port Authority’s efforts to expand available spaces for truck parking at JFK, and I am grateful for the work of residents like members of the Queens Community Task Force for Solutions to Illegal Truck Parking, who continue to advocate for solutions to this ongoing problem.”

The Port Authority opened a construction support facility at JFK that will eliminate more than 300,000 truck trips across local streets by using barges to move material used in the $19 billion transformation project.

In September, the Port Authority opened a new construction support facility at JFK that will eliminate more than 300,000 truck trips on the streets of southeast Queens by shifting to the use of barges to move material to and from JFK’s $19 redevelopment project. Under the revised lease, the JFK Airport Plaza has committed to invest a minimum of $14 million for the demolition of Building 110 to make way for the larger truck parking facility.

“Expanding truck parking at the John F. Kennedy International Airport Plaza is a critical step that will reduce the negative health impacts of truck parking and idling on the communities surrounding the airport,” City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said. “Southeast Queens neighborhoods should benefit from investments in the redevelopment of JFK International Airport, and the expanded plaza will support both local residents and truckers alike. The Council has taken legislative actions to curb illegal truck parking in residential communities, including the passage of critical bills to redesign the city’s truck route network and create off-site parking for tractor trailers. I thank the Port Authority for their efforts and responsiveness to concerns from our communities.”

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