Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and Representative Peter Welch (D) Thursday joined Federal Aviation Administrator Michael P. Huerta in announcing that the Newport State Airport will receive two FAA grants totaling $8.8 million to help with the airport's expansion. The grants to the airport in Newport, Vt., come on the heels of a Federal Aviation Administration grant of $8.1 million to Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport for safety improvements.
The FAA grants will extend the runway an additional 1000 feet to serve more and larger planes that will bring people for business, tourist and recreation opportunities throughout the region. The funds will also be used to complete the airport's apron construction, where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refueled and boarded. These infrastructure improvements are essential to the job growth that will result from the planned aircraft assembly, warehouse construction and utilization of the Free Trade Zone designation that the delegation helped secure in 2011. The FAA made awards of $8.08 million for the runway extension and $794,000 for the apron construction.
In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch -- who had endorsed the project in a letter of support -- said: "We are pleased that Administrator Huerta understands that investing in Vermont's airports goes hand in hand with our state's economic vitality. Through the expansion of Newport State Airport, the State of Vermont can continue the long-term goal of facilitating job growth and tourism in a region that is filled with promise."
Governor Peter Shumlin said: "I want to thank the Vermont congressional delegation for their hard work in securing this grant for the State of Vermont and bringing much-needed infrastructure investment to the Northeast Kingdom. This grant will pay for an extension of the runway and other improvements that will promote private investment at the airport and bring high paying jobs to the north country."
FAA Administrator Huerta said: "General aviation airports like Newport State are a vital component of our national air transportation system. Airports are essential to a strong economy -- facilitating tourism and commerce."
Bill Stenger, president of Jay Peak Resort, has long partnered with the state and Vermont's congressional delegation to attract economic development and job creation to the Northeast Kingdom. "This expansion will pave the way for an exciting expansion of all aviation services in our region. This grant will provide the capacity for the airport to welcome commercial aviation and substantial airfreight service. The jobs that will be fostered by this expansion will truly help all of our region. We are all excited," said Stenger.