County Comment: Runway Officially Opened at Hagerstown Regional Airport
Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Thomas Barrett, at the Airport ceremony on November 30.
Runway Officially Opened at Hagerstown Regional Airport
by Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer
With the landing of a corporate Gulfstream II jet aircraft, the enhanced 7,000 foot main runway 9-27 at Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR) was ceremoniously opened to air traffic on Friday, November 30th following a three-year construction project.
A number of government officials and community representatives spoke at the ceremony, including U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, Robin Summerfield the Western Maryland representative from Senator Ben Cardin's office, 6th District Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Thomas Barrett, and Former Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich.
Maryland Secretary of Transportation John Porcari, State Senator Don Munson, and Delegate LeRoy Myers represented the state of Maryland on the speaker's platform.
Local EDC Vice Chair Tim Henry, Airport Advisory Commission Chair Wayne Alter, Bill Hetzer of C.W. Hetzer Contractors, Sierra Nevada Corporation Director of IAS/Modification Service Hal Lucas, and Airport Manager Carolyn Motz gave brief remarks in the ceremony following the welcome from Washington County Board of County Commissioners' President John Barr.
The 1,500 foot addition to the runway was undertaken mainly to expand Runway Safety Areas in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Runway Safety Area (RSA) program. The guidance helps to "provide a measure of safety in the event of an aircraft's excursion from the runway....", according to the FAA.
The RSA Determination for HGR found that practical dimensions should be 500 feet by 1000 feet at each end of Runway 9-27. The Determination also stated "reducing the runway length to achieve the RSA is not feasible." At the time, the RSAs at Hagerstown were 500 feet by 500 feet on each end.
The Runway 9-27 Improvement Program was planned and scheduled so that the ultimate goal of a 7,000-foot long Runway with standard RSA and Category I Instrument Landing System on each end would be complete by late 2007.
The new 7,000-foot length not only provides full safety areas, but also allows aircraft to span longer distances from Hagerstown because payloads can be maximized in many aircraft that use the airport. The Western end of the runway was relocated east to allow for the Runway Safety Areas. U.S. Route 11 had to be re-routed and now runs under two bridges for the runway and taxiway eastern extensions.
The $61.8 million Runway Improvement Program is on schedule and on budget. Grant money from Federal and State Funds totaled over $59.1 million. Federal Funds came from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. Revenue for the Trust Fund includes passenger ticket tax, and federal taxes on other aviation services.
Individual corporations have invested over $15 million in new and improved airport facilities since start of the project. Over 350 new jobs have also been created since 2000. In addition, the runway construction itself poured tens of millions into local communities for wages, equipment and materials.
Hagerstown Regional Airport Director Carolyn Motz said, "The airport staff has been proud to usher this important transportation project into service. We are wildly excited about HGR's future and the doors that have been opened by the finished product."
"Overwhelming support came from the surrounding communities, including the aviation partners here at HGR. We have uprooted them, rerouted them, shut them down, and created dust; yet, they still cheered us on. The contractors have performed admirably, on time and within budget. Our engineers have been brilliant, all the while flexing with obstacles and maximizing our dollars. FAA has provided soldiers at every turn and guidance from Day One. Our political leaders valiantly sought funding and our budgetary advisors have cleared the way to that revenue. Please accept our most sincere thanks," she said.
"Today we proudly hand over the finished product to you, the people of the Quad State Area. Continue to support and use fabulous HGR. Be aware it is one of only 500 airports like it in the USA. Look to it for a handsome return in economic impact. Make it your gateway to the community. Expect it to continue to provide good jobs and an educational backdrop for the future. Most of all, embrace it as a transportation center for all its citizens," Motz concluded.