SCHUMER: GREATER BINGHAMTON AIRPORT DESPERATELY NEEDS FEDS TO AWARD A GRANT TO COMPLETE RUNWAY IMPROVEMENTS – FEDS INITIALLY INDICATED THAT PROJECT WOULD HAVE TO BE PHASED OVER 2 YEARS, WHICH LEAVES COUNTY TO COVER MILLIONS IN SHORTFALL OR INCREASES PROJECT COSTS
Greater Binghamton Airport’s Primary Runway Experienced Significant Pavement Failure Last Year – Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) & The Airport Determined That A Major Rehabilitation Project Was Necessary
But Feds’ Initial Indication Is To Award Only $7.5 Million This Year, Meaning Broome County Would Have To Fund Remaining $3.2 Million Or Face Multi-Year Project– Schumer Says Feds Should Award Necessary Funds, As Breaking Up The Project Could Increase Costs, Unduly Delay Vital Safety Improvements Costs And Disrupt Airport Service
Schumer to FAA: Stop Stalling Binghamton Airport’s Much-Needed Runway Repairs
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a push to secure major federal funding for the urgently-needed runway reconstruction at the Greater Binghamton Regional Airport (BGM) in Broome County. Schumer explained that, last year, the airport’s primary runway experienced significant pavement failure. Following this, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Standards District Office supported the airport’s contention that a major runway rehabilitation project was warranted, and in fact should be prioritized. However, the FAA has indicated that they will only be able to fund a portion of the project this year, leaving Broome County to either foot the shortfall in remaining costs or break the repairs up into a multi-year project. Therefore, Schumer urged the FAA to work with the county to come up with the federal funds that are still needed to make this overhaul a reality, citing that any delay could increase projects costs and disrupt air service as the runway rehabilitation remains incomplete.
“The FAA must step up to the plate and provide the full federal investment to make desperately needed repairs to Greater Binghamton Airport’s primary runway. Doing so will allow the airport to keep flights running safely and on-time, enhance safety and avoid the increased costs that come with delay,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “Broome County and the airport have been proactive in their efforts to jumpstart the project, and now it’s time for the FAA to do its part and support all of the repairs. We need to ensure all of the passengers, businesses, academics and pilots who fly in an out of the Southern Tier each day have both a pleasant experience and, most importantly, a safe one.”
“The improvement of the runway at the Greater Binghamton Airport is extremely important for the thousands of travelers that use the airport each year, to make sure there are no delays in their travel plans,” says Broome County Executive Debbie Preston. “I want to thank Senator Schumer for recognizing the need for a full repair of the runway and going to bat on our behalf. We need funding for this crucial project and we feel with Senator Schumer’s help, we will get it.”
Schumer explained that BGM’s primary runway experienced significant pavement failure late last year and, after geo-tech sampling, it was determined that it was a systemic problem present throughout the entire runway area. While the airport was able to make emergency repairs to the last asphalt failure, Schumer said the airport needs to fully rehabilitate the runway in order to keep flights running on-time and to keep operations running smoothly.
Schumer explained that the FAA has indicated that they can only fund a portion of the project this year, and suggested BGM seek the additional funding next year. However, Schumer noted this is not a guarantee to cover the costs of the project, which could significantly increase if phased over two years. Constructing the project in two phases would disrupt air service for two consecutive summers. Additionally, airport reliability and usage could suffer in the meantime; airline schedules could face disruptions and delay flights if the airport cannot operate at full capacity. Schumer added that a multi-year project could undermine air carriers’ ability to operate efficiently and discourage passengers from booking flights, which hurts BGM’s overall vibrancy in an already competitive environment.
If funds are delayed for this project, the runway’s already tenuous condition will continue to deteriorate, and BGM has no assurance its structural integrity will hold over a multi- year project. An asphalt failure during the winter months could possibly result in the airport closing its primary runway for an extended period of time.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to Administrator Huerta appears below:
Dear Administrator Huerta,
I write to you today in regards to a critical infrastructure improvement project that the Greater Binghamton Airport in New York’s Broome County is seeking funding support to bring to fruition. This airport is a small regional airport that provides essential connections throughout the county and the world for significant regional employers like Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, a national recognized university center and leisure travelers who call the Southern Tier of New York home. The airport is a key component of the regional economy and an important contributor to residents’ quality of life, and therefore it is essential to local leadership that airport infrastructure is properly maintained, and well utilized to ensure it remains as such.
The airport’s primary runway experienced significant pavement failure late last year, and upon Geo-tech sampling it was determined that was a systemic problem present throughout the entire runway area. Consultation with FAA Flight Standards District Office supported the airport’s contention that a runway rehabilitation project was warranted, and in fact should be prioritized. Due to the unforeseen nature of this situation, funding had not been programmed and as a result the FAA has indicated that only a portion of the projected $10.7M in total cost would be made available in this fiscal year, leaving the county with a multimillion funding delta to bridge, or face a multi-year project.
The scope and nature of this project does not easily lend itself to phased construction. From a practical standpoint, there are impacts to the airport’s operations. A multi-year project means disruption to air service schedules for two consecutive years, which impacts existing carriers’ ability to operate efficiently and disincentives bookings during peak travel times, all of which poses risks to the overall health and vibrancy of a regional airport in an already competitive environment. Fiscally, a multi-phased project is not a prudent choice. Segmentation of a runway rehabilitation project significantly increases overall costs. Most important, and one that cannot be valuated is the safety factor. There is no assurance the integrity of the asphalt will hold over a multi- year project. While the airport was able to make emergency repairs to the last asphalt failure, there is no guarantee that timing, weather conditions or other factors would be conducive to another such repair. An asphalt failure during the winter months would result in the airport being without use of its primary runway for an extended period of time until weather conditions would be more clement to afford availability to asphalt. This would have long term and perhaps irreversible impacts to the airport’s services.
It is for these reasons that I urge you to work to identify opportunities where additional AIP funding can be allocated towards this project. Doing so will avoid a multi-year and multi-phase approach, enable this need to be attended to swiftly in the most cost-effective way and ensure that potential threats to the vibrancy of the airport be averted. It is my understanding that funds may be recaptured from underbid projects and I urge you to evaluate how any potential non-utilized funds may be reprogrammed to this project. I appreciate your consideration of this request. Please contact Kelsey LaFreniere in my office for any further questions.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
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