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Regional Airports Make Moves to Improve

Steps towards improving the area’s airports are underway. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard gives us an update on the progress of two regional transportation hubs.

In Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut, two airports are focused on upgrading their facilities. In the Berkshires, the Pittsfield Municipal Airport is currently ahead of schedule on its project to update and expand its runway to meet requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration. Mark Germanowski, manager of the airport, says that the work to relocate a road in order to expand the 5,000 foot runway and add a 1,000 foot safety buffer zone one either side is on budget and on schedule.

Germanowksi added that significant milestones in the project are near completion.

The 22.5 million dollar project began two years ago and initially encountered delays due to complications with federal funding. However, due to the mild winter earlier this year, contractors were able to work through the season and get back on track.

In Windsor Locks, Connecticut, airport officials at the Bradley International Airport have opened a public comment period and will be holding a public hearing on a proposal to construct a new terminal that will replace the airport’s current Terminal B with a 19 gate expansion. The project would nearly double the number of existing gates at the airport.  

The old terminal was shut down to airline traffic in 2010, most services were shifted into the more recently renovated Unified Terminal A. Airport spokesman, John Wallace says the proposal is set to address future needs of the airport

The public comment period has been set up to determine any impacts on the environment, including water and air quality, wildlife, introduction of hazardous materials. Wallace also said that the hearing will seek to determine a demand for a much larger airport.

University of Hartford Economics Professor Jeffrey Cohen said that the improvements in the proposal will have an economic benefit to the region by providing more competition at the airport.

New on-site rental car lots are also included in the proposal.

The project is currently being overseen by Connecticut’s Department of Transportation.   The project could cost up to $650 million dollars and would use state and federal funds.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.