NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson (with hand up) announced nine grants that will provide almost $2.2 million in state funding for projects that enhance safety, promote state-of-good repair or advance studies for potential improvements at eight of New Jersey’s general aviation airports during a press conference in a hanger at the Princeton Airport in Montgomery Township on Thursday, Match 29, 2012. A $285,000 state grant will support a project to replace a fueling system at Princeton Airport. Behind Simpson are airport owners Naomi, Ken and Dick Nierenberg. Next to Simpson is Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16). Martin Griff / The Times of Trenton.
Princeton Airport co-owner Naomi Nierenberg speaks after NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson announced nine grants that will provide almost $2.2 million in state funding for projects that enhance safety, promote state-of-good repair or advance studies for potential improvements at eight of New Jersey’s general aviation airports during a press conference in a hanger at the Princeton Airport in Montgomery Township on Thursday, Match 29, 2012. A $285,000 state grant will support a project to replace a fueling system at Princeton Airport. Behind Nierenberg from left, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16), Simpson and co-owners Ken and Dick Nierenberg (her son and husband).
Martin Griff / The Times of Trenton.
The state has demonstrated its interest in keeping — and maintaining – the four dozen or so airports scattered across New Jersey. Last week, the Department of Transportation directed more than $1 million in grants to spruce up Trenton Mercer Airport in Ewing. Princeton Airport also has qualified for funding as part of $5.4 million in improvement projects at eight airports across the state.
Specifically, the grants will fund rehabilitation and design of three taxiways, improved drainage, and fresh pavement markings and upgraded lighting systems at Trenton Mercer, Joshua Rosenau reported last week in The Times. Princeton’s grant is earmarked for replacing that facility’s aging “fuel farm.”
The investment in safety and functionality is a good thing for the airports – and for the county as a whole.
As Transportation Commissioner James Simpson said last week, “The key is to keep these airports open, because you cannot build an airport today, because of environmental rules and the lack of space.”
The open space commanded by airport operations is a commodity developers are eager to utilize. About half of the state’s airport real estate has gone that way in recent years, making the remaining 44 public-use airports in New Jersey all the more valuable.
Trenton Mercer Airport, which has been operating for almost a century, continues to act as an economic engine for the area. County estimates peg that economic contribution at $1.5 million a year in tax revenues as well as millions more in the regional economy.
The airport also supports about 2,000 jobs, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said in November. While the number of annual flights has diminished from a high of about 175,000 in 1992, the county estimates the airport today handles about 100,000 flights a year.
The recent round of state grants, which follows other funding from the state and the federal government, comes as plans continue for further safety enhancement and modernization efforts at the facility.
Trenton Mercer Airport, privately owned Princeton Airport in Plainsboro and the Robbinsville Airport are integrally situated between Philadelphia and New York for business and corporate travelers. Commercial carrier Streamline, which now provided service to Boston from Trenton Mercer, intends to add flights to Florida.
As the recession approaches its end, tuning up this important economic engine will be vital to Mercer’s recovery.
We’re glad state officials see it that way, too. Continued investment in the region’s airports, ensuring that they are safe, convenient and accessible, makes the most of Mercer’s resources and potential.