The Pittsfield Municipal Airport Commission recently completed a major capital improvement project that included:
- Extending the main runway 8-26 from 5,000' to 5,790'
- Cleared airspace obstructions (120 acres of trees) to comply with FAA airspace regulations
- Increased the size of the FAA required turf safety areas on the sides and ends of the main runway
This project was a result of an airport master planning process that began in 1998 and completed in 2001 that identified deficiencies in the facility based on existing use and future aviation demand forecasts. The Airport had experienced 2,500 to 3,000 annual jet operations with an airport facility designed to late 1960's FAA design standards. The Airport Commission had a facility that was not compliant with updated FAA safety design standards for corporate jet aircraft and was faced with two general scenarios.
In summary there was one of two decisions to make;
- Clear the obstructions and construct compliant safety areas on the existing footprint of the main runway. This results in a shortened runway to allow room to construct the safety areas which would reduce the runway to a length that would not be compatible for corporate jet use.
Increase the footprint of the main runway to allow enough room to build compliant safety areas, increase the runway length and clear the obstructions. This results in operational compatibility for continued corporate jet aircraft use.
The Airport Commission, City, State, and National elected officials, regional business leaders and agencies, and public comment, overwhelmingly supported the infrastructure improvements needed to increase the footprint of the main runway and build the FAA compliant improvements. This decision resulted in the continued ability for the airport to retain and attract safe corporate jet operations into the 21st Century.
Funding was approved for construction of the improvement project totaling $22.5 million - FAA ($6 million), MassDOT Aeronautics ($13.5 million) and City ($3 million). In October 2009, eleven years after the planning process began and the environmental analysis started, all environmental permits were received. On the heels of the permits the final design was completed and in December 2010 (twelve years after initial studies) construction to build the first phase of the improvements began and was completed within the year. The second phase of the improvements began in December 2011 and was substantially complete one year later.
The following are some pictures of these improvements under construction:
CLEARING OBSTRUCTIONS – TREES
EXCAVATING OVER ONE MILLION CUBIC YARDS OF EARTH FOR USE TO
BUILD THE SAFETY AREAS AND EXTEND THE RUNWAY
PLACING THE MATERIAL TO BUILD THE
SAFETY AREAS AND EXTEND THE RUNWAY
ON SITE ROCK PROCESSING PLANT WITH
CROWN PLAZA & GE BUILDING 100 SEEN IN BACKGROUND
AERIAL CONSTRUCTION VIEW OF THE CUT AND FILL EXTENSION AREA
AERIAL CONSTRUCTION VIEW OF THE CUT AND FILL AREA
FLEET OF LARGE END DUMP EARTH MOVERS
EXCAVATED (CUT) AREA
CUT AND FILL PROJECT SITE
(VIEWS OF MT GREYLOCK AND DOWTOWN CROWN PLAZA HOTEL IN BACKGROUND)
VIEW OF FILL AREA FOR SAFETY AREA AND RUNWAY EXTENSION
(EXISTING RUNWAY IN BACKGROUND)
VIEW OF CUT AREA WITH CROWN PLAZA IN BACKGROUND
VIEW OF CUT AREA UNDER CONSTRUCTION
VIEW OF CUT AREA COMPLETED WITH NEW ALIGNMENT
OF SOUTH MOUNTAIN ROAD BEING PAVED
UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW LOOKING EAST TOWARD CITY
FROM NEW RUNWAY 26 END
VIEW LOOKING WEST TOWARD RICHMOND
FROM THE NEW RUNWAY 26 END
VIEW FROM RUNWAY 8 END LOOKING EAST TOWARD CITY
(GE BUILDING 100 IN BACKGROUND)