Tweed Airport investment plan gains traction

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NEW HAVEN --  A large investment plan in Tweed Airport was the topic of discussion Wednesday night during a committee meeting at New Haven City Hall.

The plan looks to pave over gravel safety zones on either end the runway, lengthening it by 1,000 feet. A longer runway would allow larger planes to fly out of Tweed and to farther destinations.

It would not require any expansion of the airport's existing grounds.

Tweed is looking to fly to more destinations, including Chicago, Washington D.C. and Florida.

"We need to provide the runway and takeoff space for these plains, otherwise they won't come," said Tim Larson, Executive Director of Tweed Airport.

Larson said more flights would be more attractive to businesses.

"They're picking and choosing on where they can hold their venues, where they can hold their meetings, and they want to have air service," said Larson.

New Haven mom Angela Russell said a more robust Tweed would give her daughter, who is blind, more travel opportunities.

"It'll make her be more independent to be able to have more options to travel to different places as she chooses," said Russell.

New Haven's plan for the project would include roadway changes to alleviate traffic and a noise reduction program for 185 area homes.

But many neighbors are urging the airport to abort its plan, saying more planes would damage the local ecosystem -- especially wetlands -- and create excessive traffic and noise, destroying their quality of life.

"That soundproofing study only affects us when we're in our houses," said Cherise Labonte, who lives near the airport. "What are we supposed to do when we're hanging out outside?"

"Anyone who's been to Morris Cove or the East Shore knows that there are two main arteries, Townsend Avenue and Woodward Avenue," said Sean O'Brien, who lives a block from Tweed. "And trying to shove all this traffic down those two roads is going to be a disaster."

A resolution to support the project will now head to the full Board of Alders for a vote on May 7.

The resolution, however, holds no legislative authority and is only an expression of intention. Any real change must come from the legislature in Hartford, which sets the laws on airport runway limits.

The legislative session ends on May 9.

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