(WKBW release) -- New York Congressman Brian Higgins announced on Tuesday that the Dunkirk Airport has been awarded a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation totaling $627,192.
“Runway expansion is allowing for increased volume and capacity at the airport which supports local business activity and jobs,” said Higgins. “This latest grant continues the progress we have already started at the Dunkirk Airport and provides for improved equipment so we are best prepared to guide our planes, cargo and passengers into Dunkirk safely.”
The funding, disbursed through the Federal Aviation Administration, will be used toward the purchase of a new Friction Meter which many airports use to provide an indication of the existing friction on runways covered with snow or ice.
The Friction Meter will generate a numeric value that is universally understood by flight crews so that they can ascertain the equivalent braking action before landing on a wet or otherwise compromised surface. This will help them take the "guess work" out of the equation, allowing them to more accurately predict total runway requirement for stopping larger, turbo-jet aircraft that this longer runway will accommodate.
In addition, Chautauqua County Department of Public Facilities Director George Spanos confirmed that this funding will enable Chautauqua County to complete the next phase of the runway extension project which includes Newell road relocation. The Proposed runway extension project includes a 1,000 x 100 asphalt runway extension to Runway 24 including a 1,000 x 35 asphalt parallel taxiway to Runway 24, lighting, drainage, and the installation of a fence. Completion of the entire project expected in the summer of 2012.
In 2009 the Dunkirk Airport received $3.5 million through the Recovery Act and an additional $1 million requested by Higgins in the Transportation bill for airport improvements. Last year the airport received an additional $115,900 and $302,005 in federal funding bringing the total amount awarded to the Dunkirk Airport over the last three year to almost $5.55 million.
Dunkirk Aviation President Lou Nalbone confirmed that improvements occurring over the last several years have resulted in an increase in business traffic.
“On behalf of the community of users of the Chautauqua County/Dunkirk airport, I would like to thank Congressman Higgins and his staff for their tireless efforts that made this most needed improvement a reality,” said Nalbone. “The increase in safety and utility to the Dunkirk airport will be a great benefit to all the users in our community.”
Chautauqua County operates the airport in conjunction with on-site fixed base operator Dunkirk Aviation.