Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tweed-New Haven Airport (KHVN), New Haven, Connecticut: Runway expansion project on hold

NEW HAVEN >> Tweed New Haven Regional Airport’s bid to pave one of the two runway safety areas at the end of the 5,600-foot main runway is on hold until a question of whether the federal government will be the project’s sponsor is resolved, officials said Wednesday.

The issue is in limbo pending a meeting that U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, has set up between Tweed officials and Federal Aviation Administration officials in Washington, D.C., Tweed New Haven Airport Authority Executive Director Tim Larson said Wednesday.

New Haven officials, led by Mayor Toni Harp, want to pave one of the runway safety areas to create a longer usable runway for takeoffs in an effort to make the airport more attractive for additional air service.

But a state bill that would have appropriated $2 million for the job died in committee last winter, but raised the hackles of some who felt it violated a 2009 “Memorandum of Understanding” between the city and East Haven that said Tweed would not pave the safety areas.

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo wrote a blistering letter in July, accusing Harp of keeping him out of talks about the bill. Maturo said he found it “disconcerting” that there was “no collaboration by the authority, legislators or the city of New Haven with East Haven.

Larson told the authority Wednesday that while Tweed has signed a $450,000 contract with Hoyle Tanner & Associates Inc., to do engineering work, “right now we’re in a holding pattern ... trying to get the FAA on board so we won’t have to go do things over again.

“Our hope is to get the FAA to pay for it,” Larson told the authority. The problem is that the FAA says it doesn’t currently have funds available for the job, he said.

The other option would be to go through state channels and try to get the state to pay for it, he said.

“We’re at the point where we have to determine who will be our sponsor on this,” he said.

Tweed has spent about $54,000 of its own funds so far, said Chuck Kurtz, vice president for engineering and development for Avports, the company that manages Tweed on contract for the authority.

A key component of the preparation for any work on the runway safety areas is an environmental impact assessment and, at this point, “we’re in the part of the environmental assessment that calls for a (National Environmental Policy Act) review,” Kurtz said.

But “we’re at a standstill” because “usually the federal agency is the sponsor of the project,” he said.

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