One of the Dunkirk Airport's ongoing projects has been a runway extension from 5,000 to 6,000 feet.
On Thursday, Congressman Brian Higgins help in getting the project funded was on display again as Higgins announced the Dunkirk Airport has been awarded $2.4 million in federal funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the third phase of its runway expansion project.
"I am pleased that Dunkirk Airport has once again received federal funding to continue runway expansion efforts," said Higgins. "Infrastructure investments like this one mean more visitors to Chautauqua County and increased job potential and activity for local business."
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
The expansion of a runway to 6,000 feet at the Dunkirk Airport will allow for larger jets than this one to use the facility.
In 2010, Dunkirk Airport received $115,000 toward phase II of the project, allowing for the purchase of land for the runway's end protection zone, and $302,000 for design work related to runway expansion. Dunkirk Airport also received $3.5 million through the Recovery Act and an additional $1 million requested by Higgins in transportation appropriations legislation for airport improvements.
Louis J. Nalbone, is the president of Dunkirk Aviation Sales & Services, Inc., which is based at the airport. He was asked about the funding and expansion.
"What great news this is," he stated. "This is going to allow us to keep certain customers that are upgrading their aircraft and make the airport more accessible for other operators that overfly Dunkirk and go to Buffalo.
Nalbone said making the runway 6,000 feet long will be very helpful to airport operations.
"That's the magic number for most corporate jets. It's the threshold for most all of the small corporate jets and their wing configuration," he explained. "This is a big deal. We have a guy based here, an Orchard Park company, this will allow that company to stay here and in the process it will generate a lot of revenue for the county."
Nalbone had praise for Higgins' efforts.
"Since Brian Higgins has been in office he has worked tirelessly to bring in funds to improve both county airports," Nalbone stated. "We owe him a big debt of gratitude for fighting for our airports and allowing us to remain competitive."
That effort to help the airport will continue, even though if reelected Higgins will not represent Chautauqua County.
"Congressman Higgins has a record of working to support entities that are economically important to all of western New York, even if they are outside of our district boundaries," said Higgins' spokesperson Theresa Kennedy. "In the past he has worked with members of the local delegation to support efforts in Niagara County and clean-up the West Valley Demonstration Project in Cattaraugus County, among other regional projects not directly in the district. There is value in maintaining strong local airport facilities throughout Western New York. Should the voters choose to return him to Congress for 2013, he will certainly remain an advocate for maintaining and improving access to air service at local regional airports for residents and business alike."
The runway expansion will reroute a section of Newell Road in Sheridan. Currently, Newell Road curves around the airport and comes out at Middle Road. Under the expansion, Newell Road will be rerouted straight to Middle Road instead of having a curve. The county legislature voted to accept a Federal Aviation Administration grant in July 2011 to relocate Newell Road as part of the first phase of construction of the project. That grant was for $623,770 with an additional 2.5 percent from the state and 2.5 percent local funding.
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