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Bartlett tours airport runway expansion

April 20, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

Since its runway expansion project began, Hagerstown Regional Airport has seen the addition of hundreds of new full-time jobs, airport manager Carolyn Motz said Wednesday.

Above the expansion project's moonscape of dust and limestone, planes soared into a cloudless blue sky as Motz and U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., looked over a huge trench that will cut underneath runway 9-27.

"We went from 550 jobs to 1,000 jobs already," Motz said.

Bartlett, Motz, Washington County Commissioner Doris J. Nipps and engineers toured the project site Wednesday.

Bartlett said he was impressed by the project, which will lengthen one of the airport's two runways to 7,000 feet.

"We have great ground transportation, which has helped this area grow, and we're going to be able to match that from the air," Bartlett said.

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According to Keith Fritz, airport engineer for URS Corp., a design firm for the project, the longer runway is expected to allow the airport to accommodate larger planes and more air traffic.

As part of the project, the airport is building a replacement section of U.S. 11 that will tunnel underneath the runway, which will span both sides of the road. The tunnel underneath the runway will be 79 feet wide and a little more than 500 feet long, Fritz said.

Planes weighing a million pounds will be able to land on top of the new U.S. 11 tunnel. The runway will be 150 feet wide with safety areas of 175 feet on either side, Fritz said.

Airport Project Manager Mahesh S. Kukata of URS Corp. said all contracts have been completed on time or slightly earlier than expected and on budget. A local company completed a major dirt-moving package as part of the project, and local subcontractors have worked on the underpass and an aircraft parking area, he said.

Bartlett said he was pleased with the progress.

"Government work is usually behind schedule and over budget, so you're obviously doing a good job," he told Motz.

The airport last week received a $6 million Federal Aviation Administration grant, funding that was expected to help offset the cost of the $60 million project. The federal government so far has provided about $22 million for the project, and the state has provided about $4 million, Motz said.

The federal government has pledged $47 million for the project, Motz said.

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