Updated 01/10/2013 06:48 PM
Pittsfield Municipal Airport expansion nearly finished
The multi-million dollar project to improve and expand the Pittsfield Municipal Airport is nearly done. YNN's Madeleine Rivera has more on how this will likely boost not only the plane traffic, but the economy in the Berkshires as well.
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Not too long ago, flying a jet this low to the runway would have been dangerous. That's because the runway approach used to be covered with trees.
"That's really what the project's about. It's all about safety," said Mark Germanowski, the airport manager.
For the last two years, construction has gone on at the Pittsfield Municipal Airport to make landing here safer for pilots. Other improvements made include leveling off these steep embankments, extending the runway and adding obstruction lights to trees.
"It's really a non-event for the airport and operational pilots now, as opposed to before where you had to navigate through obstructions," said Germanowski.
The project cost about $22.5 million and was funded by the FAA, MassDOT and the City of Pittsfield. After 12 years of planning and those two years of construction, it's nearly done. And there's already a boost in the number of corporate jets hitting the runway.
"With a facility like this that is now able to be more weather, it certainly now has the ability to be attractive to a corporation," said Germanowski.
Germanowski says they're on winter shutdown so no work is being done except for these construction workers who are installing cable wires for the obstruction lights. But they've come a long way since they started construction about two years ago. Germanowski says they've moved over a million cubic feet of earth to extend the runway and build the safety areas.
"They've taken almost all the trees. They've left maybe 300 feet," said Denise Crane, who lives by the airport.
There's opposition from folks like her. She says it's much noisier since the runway was extended.
"Of course, there's an advantage to the pilots, and I never want anything to go wrong with that. I just don't think they've done right by the houses that are left here," said Crane.
"You're never going to please everyone," said Germanowski.
Though the airport is fully operational, its ribbon cutting will take place sometime in the summer.