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Mikulski pledges to help runway

December 19, 2000

Mikulski pledges to help runway



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

Sen. MikulskiU.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., promised Washington County officials Tuesday she will help the county push for a Hagerstown Regional Airport runway extension.

She told them she sent a Dec. 15 letter to Jane F. Garvey, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, endorsing funding extension of the 5,450-foot runway to 7,000 feet.

Airport Manager Carolyn Motz, speaking for the county during Tuesday's County Commissioners meeting, requested Mikulski's help with the project. Mikulski said she will continue to and requested a map and additional information to help with future lobbying on the issue.

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Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said he was pleased with Mikulski's remarks and actions.

Mikulski's letter to Garvey urged him "to complete a Letter Of Intent (LOI) for this project to insure that (the airport) has the funds it needs for final construction. I am concerned that this important project cannot be completed without the promise of federal discretionary funding that an LOI can provide."

She told Motz she sent the letter to FAA because, if it signs the letter, that would commit the agency to multi-year funding.

But with a new presidential administration starting next month it's quite possible there will be a new secretary of transportation and a new FAA administrator, she said.

She will try to get a commitment from Garvey before the new administration starts, she said. If that's not possible then she will ask to flag the item as an important project for the next administration to address, she said.

The county's goal is to start the construction in 2003 and finish it by 2005.

Neither the Federal Agency Administration nor the state has committed to a specific funding amount yet.

The county has estimated the cost at $38.3 million to $53 million, depending on which related projects are included, because a runway extension would cross over U.S. 11.

Mikulski made the comments during her annual meetings with the Washington County Commissioners in their Hagerstown meeting room.

"We call this our 411 meeting," she said, referring to the information number. If the commissioners need emergency help then they can have "a 911 meeting," she said.

She said she has secured $5.5 million in federal funds over the last year for Washington County projects. That includes $2.3 million for the Hagerstown Housing Authority, $1.4 million to Resources for Children & Family Inc., $880,460 to Washington County Community Action Council.

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