Tweed New Haven Airport Redux
[Extracts from Yale Daily News article 4/23/19 by Natalie Bussemaker and Siddsrth Shankar]
For years, city and state residents and officials have debated whether or not to expand Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport. But despite numerous pleas from local city government, no substantial progress has been made on the issue due to state and local laws that prevent the expansion of the airport’s runway from 5,600 feet.
In January, Mayor Toni Harp unilaterally terminated New Haven’s 2009 Memorandum of Agreement with East Haven, which limited the runway length, arguing that the restriction was illegal. And last month, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Transportation Committee passed a bill that would end the state’s legal restriction on Tweed’s runway length. Still, the bill needs to be approved by the full Connecticut House of Representatives and Connecticut Senate and signed by Gov. Ned Lamont SOM ’80 to become law. According to state Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, the chances that the bill will make it into law this legislative session — which closes in just over a month — are slim….
Looney said a “necessary precursor” for him to support any legislation that would repeal the statute restricting Tweed’s runway length is the development of a “community benefits plan.” According to Looney, the plan would address soundproofing, noise concerns and traffic reconfiguration, as well as mitigate the environmental impact of the changes to Tweed.
“There’s a number of environmental advocates in the neighborhood who are raising issues about what the environmental impact of airport development would be given the predictions of rising sea levels over the next 20 years, concerns about wetlands [and] concerns about flooding,” Looney said. “All of that would have to be addressed in any plan.”
Expansion proponents note that New Haven is one of the most underserved air travel markets in the nation and that a longer runway will open the door to flights to major cities.
Currently, Tweed only offers daily service to Philadelphia and once-a-week service to Charlotte, N.C. According to a Yale press release supporting Tweed’s expansion, expanding the runway would add 1,000 jobs in the region, generate $122 million in revenue and increase the state and local tax base by $4.5 million. According to Kevin Rocco, the chief executive officer of BioRez, Inc. — a medical device start-up in the city — the stalled progress on Tweed enhancements has come at the expense of efficiency and growth for businesses in the region….
“The responsibility is going to be with [Lamont] to help move a plan forward with a commitment of state resources and broad-based inclusion of community input, because the city’s had an opportunity to do so for several years and has not,” Looney said.
[For more about the environmental hazards of Tweed Airport expansion, see our March 2019 issue, par-newhaven.org/2019/02/26/tweed-airport-and-climate-change-the-environment-is-both-local-and-global]