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Transportation the hot issue for Pa. Chambers

March 08, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - About 90 members representing three southern Franklin County chambers of commerce learned about commuter rail, bus and air transportation available to the area at an annual breakfast meeting Thursday in Greencastle.

Carolyn Motz, general manager at Hagerstown Regional Airport, and Jamie Norton, marketing specialist with the MARC Train, were the speakers.

Motz said about 40 percent of the passengers served by the airport in Hagerstown come from Franklin County. "Think of Hagerstown as your airport," she said.

Pan Am provides daily commuter service from Hagerstown to BWI airport in Baltimore morning, noon and night. It costs $29.50 one-way. The planes carry 19 passengers.

U.S. Airways offers daily commuter flights from Hagerstown to Pittsburgh, Pa., Motz said. Both provide easy transfers to connecting flights, she said.

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She also spoke of the airport's biggest project, the $40 million extension of its runway to accept commuter jet service.

"Regional jets will be the wave of the future," she said.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires a 1,000-foot runway overrun for safety. Hagerstown has a 500-foot overrun, Motz said.

The FAA will help pay for the extension, she said.

One reason it will cost so much is because the runway will have to extend over U.S. 11 which runs past the airport on the east side.

The project would involve construction of two bridges, she said.

One of the biggest expenses would be the site work that will require about 2.5 million cubic yards of fill dirt, Motz said. "That's 250,000 dump truck loads and one year of hauling," she said.

Most of the major studies have been completed, she said. The design phase will take about two years.

The money comes from taxes on airline tickets and fuel and related fees.

Motz said completion could be seven or eight years away.

Norton spoke about the new MARC Train commuter service from Frederick, Md., to Washington, D.C., which began in December.

So far, he said ridership has not met expectations, but is improving.

The state also runs 879 commuter buses to Washington and Baltimore, including a Hagerstown to Washington run, Norton said.

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