Almost $4.3 million has been acquired for the final phase of the Sussex County Airport runway extension project, according to local government officials.
Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, as well as Rep. John Carney, all D-Del, announced on Aug. 30 that the funding had been acquired from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration.
Construction began in 2012 on this project, which will improve the runway approach and extend the runway by 500 feet to accommodate larger aircraft and attract new business to the region, according to a release from Carper's office.
The grant award is for the last of a four-phase project that includes the 500-foot runway extension, the relocation of airport thresholds to meet design standards, the installation of an approach lighting system and the establishment of new non-precision instrument approach procedures. The project also aims to rehabilitate the existing runway pavement.
So far, the over $25 million project has earned nearly $9 million in federal funding, with Sussex County and the State of Delaware also contributing funds in various amounts.
Carper said he's long supported this project because of the economic impact it will have on Sussex County and all of Delaware.
"This funding will allow larger aircraft to utilize the airport and attract new business opportunities in Sussex County," he said. "This project will also allow existing businesses such as PATS Aircraft System to grow. Through projects like this, we can help foster economic growth and airport accessibility for Sussex County and all of Delaware."
Coons said infrastructure plays an important role in helping businesses grow and create jobs.
"Extending the main runway at Sussex County Airport is a smart investment in the region's growth, helping businesses grow, entrepreneurs to develop new businesses and jobs to be created," he said. "I'm excited to see the extended runway completed and for Delawareans to be able to take full advantage."
Carney said Sussex County has tremendous opportunities for economic growth.
"It's critical that Delaware has the infrastructure in place to meet that need," he said. "This grant to help extend the runway at Sussex County Airport will help existing businesses, like PATS Aircraft, succeed and grow, and incentivize new companies to set up shop in Delaware. I'm excited for the project and look forward to the construction phase."
Sussex County Council President Mike Vincent said the county is extremely excited to receive this grant, which will allow the runway extension project to continue moving forward and get the county closer to realizing the second 500-foot construction phase.
"All in all, this is fantastic news for our economy, our residents and for all of Sussex County," he said.
Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson said the Delaware delegation has been very proactive in helping to secure this funding from day one, knowing all along the importance of the airport and the impact it has on the local and regional economies. He added that the airport's complex houses 16 employers with about 900 employees.
Page 2 of 2 - "We're very thankful to have Sens. Carper and Coons and Rep. Carney in Sussex County's corner," Lawson said. "This latest project, along with the initial 500-foot extension, is yet another example of the county improving its infrastructure at the airport so we can retain our current clients and attract new customers in the future."