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This Monday the Springfield-Branson National Airport celebrated the opening of a new taxiway, as part of increased safety measures. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and files this report.
[Sound of airplane taking off]This new 75 foot wide taxiway “W,” otherwise known as “Whiskey’” is over 5, 400 feet long and more than a foot thick. This makes it much thicker than most new interstates currently under construction, and is necessary to withstand the weight of larger jets. The taxiway runs parallel to the runway, rather than cutting across the mid-point of the runway as the old one used to do. The new taxiway is meant to greatly reduce the chance for airplane collisions on the ground. Howard Fisk, chairman of the airport board, said that improving safety was the main reason for this new taxiway,
“You know one of the most important things that goes into the operation of airports these days, and you all have heard of incursions, are these taxiways. The taxiways are the areas that the aircraft can move around the actual runways, so that aircraft do not come in conflict with each other,” Fisk said.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, approximately 50 million take-offs and landings occur each year at airports across the country. One of the most critical phases of flight occurs while still taxiing on the ground. As many as 951 airportrunway incursionsoccurred in 2009 nationally.
Fisk says that this taxiway was part of a 20 year master plan for the airport, but was able to be finished ahead of schedule due to federal stimulus dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“This was already in our master plan to do. Since we had it in our master plan we were prepared for it when the federal government had money that we could apply for. There were $30 million in stimulus funds, and we applied for $15 million of those stimulus dollars, so that we could build this taxiway in advance,” said Fisk.
As many as 306 airports nation wide received federal stimulus money, with only 11 airports receiving more than $14 million. Springfield’s taxiway project was given high priority by the FAA to address this critical safety issue.
Fisk says that another great benefit of this project was that it brought many jobs and revenue to Springfield.
“Along with that went jobs. Two years of jobs for over 100 men on this site. In addition to that, there was all of the material, nearly 36 inches of material, that’s underneath where we are standing today. All of the metal, the gravel, the transportation, the engineering, all of those employment efforts went into this 75 foot wide piece of concrete here,” said Fisk.
As many as 27 flights a day take off and land at The Springfield-Branson National Airport. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.