News release from Mayor Bill Finch:
City, town of Stratford and state officials today signed a historic document resolving a decades-long dispute regarding the construction of a runway safety zone at Sikorsky Memorial Airport, the Bridgeport-owned airport that is located in Stratford. Mayor Bill Finch and Stratford Mayor James Harkins were joined by Boston regional FAA officials, state OPM Director Benjamin Barnes and Governor Dannel P. Malloy at an event heralding the occasion during an event at the Airport. Also in attendance were Airport Commission and Bridgeport and Stratford City Council members, and members of the aviation community who use Sikorsky Airport.
The document spells out the parameters for creation of a Runway Safety Area at the end runway 6-24. The agreement involves the City of Bridgeport, Town of Stratford, the state Office of Policy and Management, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Governor.
“This is an exciting day, and I am very proud that our City and the Town of Stratford were finally able to hammer out an agreement to an age-old controversy that left the aviation public at peril. Once this safety zone is installed, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we have done our part to help ensure the safety of those who fly into our airport and its neighbors on the ground,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “I want to thank Mayor Harkins, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and his staff, and Governor Malloy and Ben Barnes for their fine work in bringing this agreement to fruition.”
The agreement calls for the following:
Rehabilitation of pavement on Runway 6-24 and construction of a Runway Safety Zone (RSA) which will include the Engineered Materials Arrestor System (EMAS)
Relocation of part of state Route 113
New runway lighting, and
Removal of the existing blast fence and installation of a new airport security fence
“I’d like to thank Secretary LaHood, Mayor Finch, Gov. Dannel Malloy, DOT Commissioner James Redeker, as well as our state and federal legislative delegations, including Rep. Rosa DeLauro, for all of their assistance and support making this historic agreement possible,” said Harkins. “The time has come to move forward and make progress in a positive way. By setting aside years of bad will and focusing on working together for the common good, we have been able to reach an agreement that will benefit Stratford, as well as all of the other stakeholders, for years to come.”
A portion of the overall Runway Safety Area project cost will be financed through the transfer and sale of certain Airport property to the Town of Stratford. This includes approximately 45 acres of land directly abutting the airport currently used as a parking area for Long Beach West, and the corner of Access Road and Lordship Boulevard. According to federal law, the property must be conveyed at Fair Market Value, and the value is subject to State and FAA approval. The sales cost will be applied to the overall cost of the project. The state Office of Policy and Management is committed to seeking funds through grants or bonding for Stratford to use in meeting the federal requirement for fair market value currently estimated at $483,600.
The runway safety zone is mandated by the FAA and the agreement calls for the EMAS system to be installed at the northeastern end of the runway no later than 2015. To complete the project, the state will allow the elevation and rerouting of a portion of Main Street (State Rte. 113) to allow the EMAS installation. The elevation will help ease flooding on that portion of the road. The agreement also calls for replacing the blast fence on the northeast section of Runway 6-24. The EMAS system will be constructed using aerated concrete blocks that are designed to collapse when run over by landing gear, safely stopping the plane.
The project is estimated to cost $20 million, with the Federal Aviation Administration paying 90 percent, and the state and City paying 5 percent each.
*** Whoever is key in getting this airport safety deal finally agreed to after so many years, my hat’s off with a feather in the cap to you all! Good job and it was about time this no-brainer deal was done by Bpt and Stratford, no? *** LET’S CONTINUE THE GOOD-NEIGHBOR POLICY ***
Is everyone excited? Public safety! Public funds! Something for all of the stakeholders? Not for a while.
Return to a Fabrizi budget year when the Airport had a balanced budget. Since then each year the expenses have grown, the revenues have decreased, and the City Council nor the administration have cut this “City service.”
Each year the City Capital budget has been acquiring equipment to keep the airport in tip-top condition. Even this news will cost the City about $1 Million as our share … borrowed over a period of years, it’s $1 Million plus interest … has the City Council seen a business proposal to see how fast losses will return to balance? How many City taxpayer-stakeholders would shed a tear if the Airport went away?
And I want to nominate John Harkins, Mayor of Stratford (who usually comes across as a good guy on TV or in the press) for this political one-liner, for the OIB “Empty Sentence AWARD for 2013: “The time has come to move forward and make progress in a positive way.” What did he say? It’s a genuine “empty sentence!” In Bridgeport our local elected have trained our ears well. Time will tell.
Who is going to tell him the Mayor of Stratford is John (not James) Harkins?
Congratulations to all who participated in reaching this positive conclusion. Long overdue.
Now I hope the Federal sequester makes way for a Federal budget compromise that will keep the FAA operating the control tower.
What a shame if this agreement is reached but the tower is not staffed by air traffic controllers.
It’s about time!!! I actually would have preferred the state of CT took over the ownership and management as Bridgeport has often shown their willingness to milk their assets. Fortunately, Stratford has been a watchdog in that matter.
Now that the deal has been signed this wonderful economic engine will once again bring in much needed PRIVATE revenues to the area. And, hopefully, GE will move its fleet of rotary and fixed-wing aircraft from Stewart Airport to Sikorsky Airport. That would be most convenient as GE’s headquarters is only 15 minutes away, not to mention the revenue to be infused into Sikorsky, and by extension Stratford and Bridgeport. That also means new jobs.
Oh, and by the way, the Federal “Sequester” is a fraud as it only talks about additional spending in the Federal “Budget.” The money to repair Sikorsky has been there all along. All it needed was both Bridgeport and Stratford to sit down and agree. That, at least, finally happened.