By Ariel Wittenberg
May 13, 2014 12:30 AM
NEW BEDFORD — The Federal Aviation Administration has given New Bedford Regional Airport an $800,000 grant to study the environmental impacts of future capital investments.
The grant is meant to help identify potential impacts from projects identified in the Airport Layout Plan and five-year Capital Improvement Plan.
Airport Manager Erick D’Leon said the funding will help the airport when it is considering improvements. The state and FAA require the airport to do an environmental impact study of any planned changes, D’Leon said. Currently, those changes are minor and include things like placing new safety signs and repaving some of the airport’s runways.
“But anytime you bring heavy equipment on the airfield, you need to study the impacts to wetlands, animal and plant species, and storm water runoff,” D’Leon said.
He added that conducting thorough environmental impact studies will help the airport down the road when it is looking for grants to fund the work.
The New Bedford Regional Airport’s grant is just one in $8.9 million in funding secured for Massachusetts airports by its congressional delegation.
Rep. William Keating, D-Massachusetts, in a statement, applauded the FAA’s “commitment to ensuring our municipal airports get the support they need and deserve.”
“The four airports receiving funding in the Ninth Congressional District serve as a vital link to our tourism industry and commercial businesses, both of which are vital to the economy of the Southeastern coastal communities,” he said.
A statement from the office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, agreed.
“These significant FAA grants will help Massachusetts’ airports better serve our state’s families and promote more business activity in the area,” she said. “These investments are a great example of how the federal government can be a strong partner for our cities and towns, by supporting key infrastructure projects across the commonwealth.”
Senator Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, also in a statement called regional airports “hubs of economic activity” and stressed that the grants will help support local jobs and business.
“Infrastructure investments like these are a great example of how federal, state and local partnerships benefit Massachusetts and our economy,” he said.
By Ariel Wittenberg