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Schumer Says $3.5 Million In Federal Funding Will Be Used To Extend Runway & Taxiway, Make Airport Safety Improvements 

Schumer: Larger Jets Will Soon Be Cleared for Take-Off


U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today visited the Watertown International Airport to officially announce major federal funding for the airport. Schumer said this $3,591,188 in federal funding will pay for a 1,000-foot extension of Taxiway A, which runs parallel to Runway 28, as well as a 1,000-foot extension to Runway 28 itself. In addition, this federal investment will fund safety improvements to the runway safety area of the airport that will allow it to better meet FAA standards. Extending the runway will allow larger planes to land during cold weather, which will allow 50-seat jets to continue landing during the winter, keep up with demand, and allow the airport to continue to grow.

“With this very significant $3.5 million federal runway expansion grant Watertown International Airport is cleared for take-off! We worked very hard to secure this funding because better service in to and out of Watertown is fundamental to growing the region’s economy and to attracting more planes and more business and more tourism to the region,” said Senator Schumer. “With this funding, the Watertown International Airport will be able to make the critical upgrades necessary to ensure its runway and taxiway are top-notch and safe for the passengers and pilots who fly in and out of Watertown every day.”

Schumer said these funds were allocated through the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). During his visit, Schumer explained that with the 1,000-foot addition to the airport’s runway, and the 1,000-foot expansion of its corresponding taxiway, the Watertown International Airport will finally be accessible to larger aircraft year round. Schumer said this would make the airport a more attractive stop for commercial airlines, particularly during colder weather.

Until now, the Watertown International Airport would have to switch every fall from a 50-seat commercial jet to a 37-seat turboprop plane, as the FAA’s winter weight restrictions did not permit larger jet to land on airstrips shorter than 7,000 feet. The 1,000-foot additions, in both directions, to the 6,000-foot runway and 6,000-foot taxiway means the Watertown International Airport will now be able to accommodate the 50-seat jet year round, increasing the daily amount of air traffic through Upstate New York.

Schumer called this a win for the airport, its passengers and its entire regional economy, which will now benefit from increased travel revenue. Schumer said this announcement comes at a time when increased service is much-needed, as passenger traffic has grown steadily since U.S. Airways, which recently merged with American Airlines, switched its commuter flight at Watertown from Chicago to Philadelphia last year. According to the airport. Passenger traffic grew 4 percent in August alone. This increase in passenger traffic has allowed the Watertown International Airport to surpass the 10,000 passenger enplanement marker, entitling it to $1 million dollars per year from the FAA. Schumer said this could bring the airport that much closer towards establishing an enterprise fund, which would cover the financial responsibility for maintaining the airport, and lighten the load for local taxpayers.

Schumer was joined by Robert Hagemann III, Jefferson County Administrator and Carolyn Fitzpatrick, Chairwoman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators

“Watertown International Airport is a vital economic anchor in Jefferson County, and it has to meet the best standards for efficiency and safety," said Senator Gillibrand. “Investing in our airport’s infrastructure will make it better for the businesses and travelers who rely on it every day. I will continue to push for funding to help ensure there is timely, safe air travel New Yorkers can rely on.”

“This represents a threshold moment in the continuing development of the Watertown International Airport.  This particular runway extension grant award helps preserve both the commercial & general aviation business that has been steadily developing over the past several years while, at the same time, allows Jefferson County to further enhance air transportation in an ever changing commercial airline industry that now serves residents of the North Country, the Thousand Islands & Eastern Ontario,” said Robert Hagemann III, Jefferson County Administrator.  “We are most appreciative of the valuable assistance provided by Senator Gillibrand, Senator Schumer & Congresswoman Stefanik.”

 "This project will increase safety and make the airport more accessible to airlines and business aviation aircraft," said Grant W. Sussey, Airport Manager, Watertown International Airport.  "I'm excited to get started on the project"

This funding for Watertown International Airport, in Jefferson County, is part of the Airport Improvement Program and is administered by DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Airport Improvement Program provides grants to public agencies for the planning and development of public-use airports that are included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). Funds obligated for the AIP are drawn from the Airport and Airway Trust fund, which is supported by user fees, fuel taxes, and other similar revenue sources.