Friday, August 25, 2017

Taos Regional Airport (KSKX), New Mexico

Kenyon Rainer, with Star Road Dance Company from Taos, walks across the apron at Taos Airport on Friday. He and his family sang and danced at a grand opening for the new 1.5 mile Crosswinds runway at the airport. 


Federal, state and local officials gathered Friday (Aug. 25) at the Taos Regional Airport to celebrate the official opening of the long-anticipated new runway.

The 8,600 foot runway will aid emergency services and other pilots with an additional, longer runway for the airport and will also divert air traffic away from Taos Pueblo and the lands surrounding it, according to officials. Local officials said the project has been 30 years in the making and are excited to be a part of the construction and completion of the over $24 million project. 

“This is an amazing opportunity for our community,” said Taos County Manager Leandro Cordova during the official opening of the runway.

Entertainment for the ribbon-cutting ceremony was provided by singer/songwriter Michael Martin Murphey as well as Star Road Dance Company from Taos Pueblo. 

While Taos Pueblo members and officials were honored by speakers at the ceremonies, the ribbon cutting took place during traditional ceremonies at the pueblo and pueblo officials could not be present for the event. Mayor Dan Barrone said during the ceremony that he was interested in holding an additional opening even so that officials from Taos Pueblo could be honored for their contributions to the new runway as well.

Original article can be found here ➤  http://www.taosnews.com



TAOS – After decades of discussion, controversy and litigation, Taos officials threw a party Friday to celebrate a new, longer runway and expansion at the municipal airport north of town.

Town leaders hailed the $26 million project a boon for tourism and economic development, and much more.

“This isn’t just an airport runway,” said Mayor Dan Barrone.

The project “is about new economic opportunities and partnerships that will increase accessibility between Taos and the world, between Taos and new tourism opportunities,” he said.

Work on the about 1.5 mile long runway — perpendicular to the single prexisting runway— started in 2015. Discussion of the project began about 25 years ago.

The new runway, about 3,000 feet longer than the other one, is intended to increase the number of planes that can land at the airport and improve safety at an airport known for windy conditions at high altitude on the Taos mesa.

Federal Aviation Administration director Michael Huerta said at Friday’s event that the second runway would improve pilots ability to land in blustery conditions by providing a second option depending on which way the wind is blowing. The longer runway also makes it easier for all aircraft to land in varying weather conditions, he said. The federal government provided most of the money for the project.

“For me, this is one of the most satisfying projects we’ve completed during my tenure with the agency,” Huerta said. “Because an airport is, in a sense, a treasure. It’s a lifeblood of a community, an asset that leverages so many different things.”

In addition to private planes, Barrone said users will include forest firefighting aircraft, search and rescue teams and those use to transport patients. “Because of this project, lives will be saved,” said the mayor.

Opponents have maintained that more airplanes will mean more pollution and will benefit only the wealthy who can fly in on private planes. About two years ago, a state district court judge rejected a challenge to the airport plans and how it was approved. But opponents have taken the case to the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

Barrone said the new, longer runway represents fulfillment of a “sacred pledge” by the town reroute air traffic away from the pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Drummers and dancers from Taos Pueblo were present for Friday’s celebration, but pueblo officials did not attend. They have supported the project following an agreement with the airport that planes can not fly lower than 5,000 feet over their land. The pueblo had in the past opposed the airport plans.

The airport currently sees an average of 400 and 500 flights per month. Airport manager John Thompson said the FAA estimates that the number of flights will increase 5 percent annually for the next five years.

Thompson said within the next three years, the airport would like to start using then new runway for small, commercial flights. “That’s a very strong possibility,” said Thompson

Barrone said they would like to see flights connecting to Santa Fe as well as Denver, so the town can attract national and international travelers.

Mike Garcia, the project engineer, told the Journal that he hopes the town will help those still apprehensive about the runway see its benefits for the entire community.

“Now that it’s done, I hope it helps bring the community together…I hope the community starts to accept it,” said Garcia.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.abqjournal.com

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