NEW HAVEN — The Tweed Airport runway expansion bill took center stage at the Capitol complex Monday as the transportation committee heard stakeholders public testimony.
Gov. Lamont voiced his support for the expansion of the runway at Tweed in his budget address. Overall, it’s part of a push to modernize Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure on the roads, the rails and in the air.
“We really need to kick-start the economy,” said Anthony Fartaria of The Omni Hotel at Yale-New Haven. One proposal to do it is to expand the runway at Tweed Airport to accommodate commercial flights. Kevin Dillon is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Airport Authority. “I think any airport that really wants to get into commercial service has to have a 6,000 foot runway.”
The Connecticut Airport Authority is currently in talks with the city of New Haven to oversee operations at Tweed. “We want to make sure that the activities are coordinated with one another,” said Dillon.
A bill to rollback a 2009 law that limited the runway to just 5,600 feet was up for debate at the Capitol complex. Operating only daily flights to Philadelphia and weekly flights to Charlotte, some suggest the airport is underutilized. “Expanding and having more destinations in New Haven just makes it a lot easier from a professional standpoint,” explained Fartaria.
Tweed is surrounded by residential neighborhoods, so a handful of those residents argue a runway expansion would impact their quality of life. “I’m not really in favor of it,” said Laura Kluth, a lifelong New Haven resident. “More noise, more pollution, more traffic.”
State Sen. Will Haskell, a Democrat from the 29th District considers himself an environmentalist. “But we have to listen to the business community. When they tell us that a major concern with Connecticut is that they can’t their corporate executives to and from work,” he said.
Right now a lot of people in Southern Connecticut use Kennedy or LaGuardia to access flights. “You are going to New York, you are in a car for 2 or 2 and a half hours facing congestion. To me, that impact on the environment is so much more significant,” said Vin Petrini, the Senior Vice President If Yale New Haven Healthcare. He told Fox 61 Tweed serves as a key link for healthcare. “We did 30 heart transplants last year, those hearts come to us via Tweed airport.”