Neighbors concerned about proposal to extend Tweed's runway - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Neighbors concerned about proposal to extend Tweed's runway

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New Haven neighbors have raised concerns about a plan to extend the runway at Tweed (WFSB file photo) New Haven neighbors have raised concerns about a plan to extend the runway at Tweed (WFSB file photo)

A fight over flights and the plan to lengthen the runway at Tweed New Haven airport has been a contentious battle for years.

Now, the City of New Haven and the airport are once again pushing the issue.

A public hearing on the issue happened at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at City Hall.

Neighbors said the airport made a deal and promised it would not extend its runway, but the airport said it just wants to pave the existing safety areas.

It said without it, it can’t attract more flights, which is something the city argued is needed to help the airport and the region grow.

Annette Fusco’s house on Burr Street backs right up to Tweed New Haven Airport, and for her and other neighbors, the latest push to pave the existing runway safety areas just won’t fly.

“I just don’t like it, it’s just not fair to know they promised something and then they go against it,” Fusco said.

The issue is a bill that would, in part, pave the safety areas, making the runways 6,600 feet.

Right now, a state statute limits the length to 5,600 feet.

Tim Larson, executive director at Tweed said the shorter runway was one of the biggest reasons commercial airlines previously left.

He urged an extension, which would stay within the airport's footprint and bring in other airlines that would make Tweed more competitive in the region. 

"Yale, which is the number two or three university in the world, we have an airport that's basically across the street, and we're not able to accommodate the professors, students and people that are coming and going," Larson said.

Professors waiting to take the train at Union Station have been yearning for flights.

"Taking a train that's five or six hours to get there and instead to have a one hour flight, and do it in one day, would be a serious improvement," said Joanna Aizdberg, a Harvard professor. 

The city and the airport said the longer runway, while still staying within the existing footprint, is needed to bring in more business.

“We’d like to go to three other cities, we’d like to go to Washington D.C. Reagan, somewhere in central Florida, and we’d like to go to Chicago,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

In November, American Eagle brought jet service back to Tweed, with daily flights to Philadelphia.

In laying out its case, the city and the airport said Tweed is one of the most underserved airport markets in the U.S. with 1.2 million people living in the area. They say most live less than 30 minutes from Tweed-New Haven, yet the airport said more than half travel to New York City areas to catch flights and 38 percent head up to Bradley.

“We’d just like the pave the runway safety areas and that will get us more flights, people can get to the airport faster and we think it will improve economic development,” Harp said.

“They signed an agreement that they would not expand the airport and now they’re doing it, they’re going against it, they’re trying to break that promise,” Fusco said.

Now the bill passed out of the committee, but if this were to happen, it still needs to be passed by both the House and the Senate before the legislative session ends in two weeks.

The Board of Aldermen sent this to the full board for a decision on May 7. The state will ultimately decide what to do and its session ends on May 9. If approved, paving won't being until 2021. 

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