Tweed expansion on schedule

Tweed construction is set to be completed within six to 12 months.
Tweed construction is set to be completed within six to 12 months. Photo by Shahla N..

The planned $26 million expansion of Tweed New Haven Regional Airport will be ready as early as next April, Tweed executive director Mark Volchek ’00 GRD ’00 said Wednesday. But, because of a new law, that will be the end of it.

Volchek said the Tweed construction, which includes the addition of two safety zones along both sides of the main runway, is on schedule to be completed within six to 12 months. After that, Tweed officials, as well as New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and East Haven Mayor April Capone Almon, will attempt to woo four to five airplane carriers to fly in and out of Tweed over the next few years. Currently, only U.S. Airways serves the airport.

But the expansion will stop there. Following the terms of a March agreement forged between DeStefano and Capone Almon, who opposed Tweed’s expansion, state legislators passed a new state law that went into effect this week to limit the airport’s runway length to its current 5,600 feet, ensuring it will stay a “regional airport,” said East Haven state Rep. Mike Lawlor.

“There was a meeting of the minds with [the] mayors listening to each other and saying, ‘These are our concerns, these are our desires and this is what we feel comfortable with,’ ” Lawlor said.

Lawlor said the law limits airport service to 180,000 passengers per year, 30 departures per day, six commercial service counters and 700 parking spaces. The limits allow for some expansion; currently at Tweed, there are 135,000 passengers per year, about four to five departures per day (all aboard U.S. Airways), one commercial service counter and 700 parking spaces.

The law also adds a 15th member to the Tweed Airport Authority, the volunteer committee in charge of the airport. New Haven will now hold eight seats, down from nine, on the board, and East Haven will have five seats, up from two. The law also allows East Haven residents to veto airport plans, Capone Almon said.

Now that the resolution is cemented into state law, the restrictions are enforceable, Lawlor said.

The state legislation comes after four decades of clashes between New Haven and East Haven officials. Capone Almon maintained for years that the airport was noisy and that its expansion would reduce the quality of life of East Haven residents.

In an interview Wednesday, Capone Almon recalled the tense relationship between the airport and her family. When her grandparents bought a house near Tweed’s runway, Capone Almon said, neighbors told them not to “get too comfortable, because the airport will take [their] homes.”

“The house is still there,” she said, proudly.

In response to Capone Almon’s concerns, Volchek said the expansion will not heavily disturb neighbors.

“A few hundred [cars] isn’t going to make a big difference because there are thousands living there [already] commuting,” he said.

Volchek said the resolution shows more cooperation between the two cities instead of them “arguing and pursuing lawsuits.”

City officials — including City Hall’s liaison to Tweed expansion affairs, traffic director Michael Piscitelli — did not return requests for comment left on their office phones Wednesday. In the past, DeStefano has praised the agreement for stimulating the local economy.

The airport may help Yale as well by providing a landing space for its business executives and commercial investors. Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93 said in February, “We have regularly committed our support for Tweed to the State government and will continue to join with other stakeholders in pushing for an improved Tweed that brings it back to a level of scheduled service it enjoyed in the past.”

Comments

  • steve

    While this agreement is late in coming,it will now allow the airport to attract new service with 50-75 seat regional jets with service to atlanta,chicago,detroit and charlotte.At 5600 feet long,the main runway can handle aircraft as large as 737 and a319 airliners.Airtran has plans to start 737 service from orlando to key west which has a 4800 foot runway and delta will offer service from atlanta to key west.Orlando to key west is 260 miles and atlanta to key west is 650 miles.With tweeds 5600 foot runway,the above listed airport hubs will be easy to reach.Some say the runway staying at 5600 feet does not improve airline operations.With the new overruns and tree triming at the north end,the full runway to be utilized.In the past,aircraft departing runway 2 to the north at times could only factor 4700 feet in the take off. Orange county airport in california has a 5700 foot runway,and offers non stop service to dallas,denver chicago,atlanta,newark,etc with distances over 2300 miles.
    I have flown tweed in the past and it is much more user friendly than bradley field or new york and so close by to many new haven metro fliers

  • egos

    the egos of these mayors

  • Veritas

    As a matter of efficiency, I think all this money would be better spent on constructing a high-speed extension of Metro-North to Hartford and Bradley. However, if we’re so determined to fix Tweed, all we’d need are flights to Atlanta (Delta) and Chicago (United) to connect Tweed with the rest of the nation and probably sufficiently lower prices. Unfortunately, if the premium to fly out of Tweed stays above $40 each way, I’ll probably continue to fly out of LGA.

  • Tanner

    You would think Tweed was on the border on the old East West Berlin. Great they sign an agreement for expansion that would have been great 15 years ago during an econommic boom and the travel industry was in an era of growth. The Westchester NY Airport has been a sucess. New Haven arrives at the party years late. As for the neighborhood, You people brought your homes near an airport, I don’t want to hear what your real estate agent promised you. As far as traffic. Tweed could elevate some car traffic if they could syncronize the bus schedules to the arrival and depature schedules. Currently the buses seemed to be scheduled to just miss boarding call and only one bus is scheduled to stop at Tweed about 10 minutes after a scheduling arrival, so if you have a checked bag you might miss it, but the cabbies are happy.

  • Yale 08

    A few items:

    1. There is currently a good amount of Amtrak service between New Haven and Windsor Locks (for easy connection to Bradley); however, Tweed is often more convenient and less expensive if you’re leaving from New Haven (ground transit costs and/or parking are surprisingly high)
    2. Veritas — how are you getting to LGA now? (translation: what are you paying to get there?)
    3. To the author — who exactly are Yale’s “commercial investors”? :-)
    4. Tanner — amen

  • The Count

    It always amuses me how Tweed’s opposition uses the same singsong that the airport is being expanded “for Yale.” Yet, I see little enthusiasm here on the part of the student body or faculty. As for rail service to Bradley, you’re talking about boarding a train in New Haven and making as many as nine stops before reaching Windsor Locks, on track zoned for 40 miles per hour. High-speed rail would be difficult at best to achieve on that terrain. And, instead of depending on Connecticut Transit buses, why not have Yale Transit run shuttles out to Tweed to coincide with the departure/arrival schedules? It’s three miles, max, between downtown and the airport. Stop depending on Bradley and the New York airports. If you want decent airline service here, you have to demand it. And I would love to hear from any Yalies interested in working toward that end. Contact thetweedring@yahoo.com.

  • Pablo Loco

    Tweed has been a no fly zone for more than 10 years. Yes, U.S. Airways Express is here. U.S. Airways Express serves every one horse town in the northeast including Messina and Ogdensberg NY and Bar Harbor and Augusta Maine. It is better than nothing but really no big deal.

    Nothing will be gained by an agreement between the two towns. This agreement was agreed to by anti airport activists who are all preaching to the same choir. The interests of the air traveler or the airlines were not considered. Tweed gave away the Industrial Park to East Haven years ago and it bought no peace. The agreement is a private document not available to the public.

    What airline is going to want to enter an airport that has so many restrictions? How can the FAA which is funding the airport agree to such restrictions?

    The agreement puts a final nail in the Coffin and commits New Haven to permanent stagnation. There was no need for it as East Haven lost all of its battles anyway. East Haven is just an excuse for not moving forward.

  • Local AirTrans

    No one in the local area is interested in expanding service to Tweed, except a few special interest groups. Years ago when Allegheny ( US Air- yes I’m old enough to remember)flew out of Tweed they were flights to nowhere. You have Bradley, JFK and Laguardia, White Plains and TF Green all within easy traveling distance. The local taxpayers have no interest in paying for an airport no one uses, no one needs, and one that’s historically mismanaged. The only voices still calling for expanded Tweed service are some business owners and those attached to the Yale community. Tweed and Sikorsky and New London farther up the coats serve thier purpose best as small general aviation airports.

  • 0Y8

    Did anyone ever fly pan am express when it flew BWI to Tweed? Sketchiest ever since there was no check in counter at BWI…

  • Pablo Loco

    Yale is only interested in continued stagnation at Tweed. There are no special interest groups. Tweed should be and could be boarding a million passengers a year. Opps, I could be half wrong. Connecticut is the anti aviation, anti tourism state. Stagnation and lack of dynamic ideas is our theme here. Pan Am did not last long. It is a very small airline based in New Hampshire that has never done well.