News release from Mayor Joe Ganim:
Mayor Joe Ganim today joined Mayor John Harkins of Stratford, City Council Members and State Lawmakers to reopen Runway 6-24 at Igor. I Sikorsky Memorial Airport. Mayor Ganim boarded a twin engine Wheels Up jet with City Council members Tom McCarthy, Jeanette Herron and Anthony Paoletto to make the first inaugural landing at the new and improved runway. The ceremony recognized the more than 20 year effort to re-construct the runway and bring critical safety improvements to the airport, including replacing the South Main Street metal blast fence with a new Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS).
“It was an honor to be on the first plane to ever land at the new runway,” said Mayor Ganim. “This partnership with the Town of Stratford proves municipalities united with a common goal can bring a lot of good. It was with our combined effort that Runway 6-24 was successfully completed. The reopening was a long time coming and I know it will only ensure the safety of the many individuals who utilize the Sikorsky Airport on a daily basis.”
Runway 6-24 was repaved and equipped with new runway lights. Engineers also included a 300-foot-long EMAS, a paved area made of weak-walled concrete blocks. When an aircraft rolls over it, it collapses to a specified depth, slowing and stopping the plane in a predictable manner and with minimal damage. EMAS ensures a safer landing for aircraft that overshoot the runway by halting the forward progress. This new feature could have saved the lives of eight individuals who died in a fiery crash on the night of April 27, 1994 when a chartered twin-engine Piper hit the blast fence. The runway itself is still as long as it always was–4,677 feet. But the EMAS installation required the southern end of Main Street to be reconfigured; this project also elevated the street thus reducing flooding risks.
Ninety percent of the $46 million project was paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration, with the state and city of Bridgeport evenly splitting the remaining 10 percent.