January 29th, 2014 | City

Tweed Airport constructing wildlife deterrent fence

Tweed New Haven Regional Airport has begun construction on a wildlife hazard deterrent fence, in hopes of preventing incidents like that in 2012 – when a deer was struck and killed by a plane.

The Tweed New Haven Airport Authority enlisted Massachusetts-based G. B. Hastie to build the fence following an award of $1.5 million last month. The 2012 accident involved a plane carrying a hospital patient which hit the deer on the runway during takeoff. The Canadian owner of the air ambulance sued the airport and its operator in federal court last month, seeking $5 million in damages to the airplane, in addition to the value of lost bookings during the months the plane was not operational. According to the lawsuit transcript, during the time, “numerous wild deer were present on airport runways and on areas of the airport designated for landings and takeoffs.”

The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Airport Improvement Grant program will help fund the new fence, with FAA paying over 90 percent of the $1.5 million cost. The state of Connecticut will pay an additional 7.5 percent, and New Haven will add 2.5 percent.

Tweed’s Administrative Director Susan Godshall said she anticipates the construction will be finished by April 15. G. B. Hastie must finish construction by May 1, as outlined by Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, in order to prevent the construction from interfering with the breeding season for birds.