Flying high, but still grounded Rep. Rothman pleased by Port Authority’s choice not to expand Teterboro Airport

At a May 3 ceremony at Teterboro Airport, acting New Jersey Gov. Richard Codey signed a bill that authorized the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to expand two regional airports, one in each state, in an attempt to relieve air traffic congestion.

The New Jersey site designated for expansion has yet to be named. But officials have said that it will not be nearby Teterboro airport.

U.S. Representative Steve Rothman (D-9th Dist.) said last week that he was relieved that Teterboro is not slated for expansion, but he still has some concerns about the airport’s future.

Teterboro problems long a Rothman concern

Residents of southern Bergen County as well as Secaucus have long registered complaints with Rothman concerning noise from planes from Teterboro Airport.

The oldest operating airport in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, the first flight lifted off in 1919 from the 827-acre airport, located at the juncture of Teterboro, Moonachie and Hasbrouck Heights. The Port Authority purchased the airport in 1949, and its use has increased ever since.

While nearby Newark Liberty International Airport handled the most flights in the metropolitan area in 2006, clocking in at over 444,000, Teterboro, which typically handles smaller private planes, handled just over 187,000 flights according to Port Authority figures.

Local residents have been particularly vocal about noise complaints related to the airport. In 2003, Congressman Rothman responded by helping to pass a bill that retained a ban on aircraft exceeding 100,000 pounds in weight from taking off from Teterboro because of the excessive noise these planes made for the surrounding communities.

Additional neighbor complaints have touched upon exhaust odors, as well as incidents in which planes ran off the runways.

The Port Authority has also tried to reduce traffic at Teterboro by prohibiting the noisiest aircraft, known as Stage 2 jets, from the airport, as well as calling for a voluntary ban on late-night flights.

The bill

The bill that Gov. Codey recently signed allowed the Port Authority to expand its bi-state empire to the north by allowing the agency to purchase the $78.5 million, 93-year lease of Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., some 55 miles north of New York City. The law also allows the Port Authority to operate outside of its traditional jurisdiction area, which is designated to be a 25-mile radius from the Statue of Liberty.

Congressman Rothman discussed what the designation of Stewart as the airport to be used to relieve regional air traffic – and not Teterboro – means to his district, which includes Secaucus, Jersey City Heights, and parts of North Bergen.

“Teterboro has always been designated as a ‘reliever’ airport in contrast to the major airport status of Newark, LaGuardia and JFK,” he said. “I’m pleased that the Port Authority has lived up to its promises to me and many others that Teterboro will never become a major airport.”

Rothman looked to the potential upgrade of Stewart with pleasure, but also caution.

“The Port Authority’s decision to acquire Stewart Airport is a welcome one, because it offers the possibility for some long-term traffic relief at Teterboro, but there is no guarantee that relief will ever come,” he said. “We need relief at Teterboro now.”

Noise annoys

Rothman went into further detail about the effect that noise disturbances created by the operations at Teterboro have on the surrounding communities.

“Given the stresses of life in 21st century America, people here in northern New Jersey have enough to cope with already,” he said. “The roar of planes flying in and out of Teterboro simply add a significant and unwelcome measure of stress to an already over-stressed quality of life. The smaller aircraft that fly into Teterboro are permitted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly lower as opposed to those that fly into the larger airports. This is an unnecessary contributor to the aircraft noise factor in the area that lies within a five to 15 mile radius from Teterboro Airport.”

Rothman hopes that the Port Authority and the FAA enact a program that will encourage the diversion of Teterboro traffic to Stewart, including various financial incentives and user fees.

If all else fails, Rothman offered an additional suggestion.

“An expanded Stewart Airport probably won’t be up and running for another five to 10 years,” he said. “If other measures don’t have the desired effect, it may require the Port Authority and the FAA to restrict the numbers of planes coming in and out of Teterboro, period.”

Mark J. Bonamo can be reached at


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