BOSTON – Thursday, October 31, 2013 – Today, MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey joined local, state and federal officials to celebrate the completion of the runway expansion and safety improvements project at the Pittsfield Municipal Airport, a $22.5 million investment in the Commonwealth’s aviation infrastructure.
“Transportation infrastructure investment is a hallmark of the Patrick Administration and the runway improvements in Pittsfield cannot be overlooked,” said Secretary Davey. “Quality of life, business and tourism opportunities in the Berkshires are positively affected by bringing the Pittsfield Municipal Airport into the 21st century.”
“The Pittsfield Municipal Airport is a critical part of the engine that drives the economy of the Berkshires. Not only does it support more than 100 jobs, the city owned and operated airport pumps millions of dollars into the region each year. The improvements and expansion announced today will not only increase jet traffic, it will allow the airport to remain competitive with other aviation facilities in the region. It's an exciting investment in our local infrastructure that will pay dividends for years to come,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
The permitting, design and construction process spanned more than a decade and included countless advocates, stakeholders and current and former elected leaders. Funding for the project came from both the local, state and federal levels and includes $13.4 million from MassDOT, $6 million in federal funds, and more than $3 million from the City of Pittsfield.
“The Federal Aviation Administration has worked with hundreds of airports around the country to make sure their runway safety areas meet our high federal standards,” said FAA Regional Administrator Amy Corbett. "We're pleased that Pittsfield has finished work on this critical safety improvement."
“An updated and improved Pittsfield Airport is part of making sure Berkshire County has the infrastructure it needs to grow and add jobs,” said Senator Benjamin B. Downing. “I am glad we were able to complete this project with the help and support of Governor Patrick, former Congressman Olver and others.”
The investment brought the runway into compliance with federal safety standards by adding more than 1000 feet to the runway. The work included vegetation and environmental mitigation, culvert installation, utility and roadway relocation, runway extension and safety area earthwork and paving, storm water mitigation infrastructure, and lighting installation.
“Airport expansion was a top issue when I ran for my first elected office 10 years ago," said Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier. “It has been great to be part of the team that has brought the project through compromise, snags and sometimes frustration to get to the final product. I am appreciative of the hard work by many people over many years that made it happen.”
Prior to project completion, there were approximately 40,000 aircraft operations annually at Pittsfield. The combination of the enhanced runway safety areas and the runway extension offers an opportunity for growth in operations with an infrastructure that is better equipped to serve business and aircraft.
“This project has been a long and public project. The improved airport may be an instrumental part of Pittsfield’s economic development in the future. We appreciate the persistent support by the Secretary of Transportation to see this project to completion,” said Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi.
“We have been working since 2001 to bring our facility up to the safety standards pilots expect to see around the country. The best quote I have heard regarding the project was from a pilot who said ‘flying into Pittsfield is now a non-event,’ I know that does not sound very exciting but to me that is exactly what we were looking for,” said Christopher J. Pedersen, Chairman of the Airport Commission.
In its 2011 Statewide Economic Impact Study, MassDOT calculated the affects of aviation on the Commonwealth’s economy. Pittsfield Municipal Airport supports 125 jobs and is responsible for $18 million in economic output each year. Combined, the airports in Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington generate $37.5 million for the Berkshires economy and support 300 jobs.
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