“I’m here at the insistence and persistence of Senator Jack Reed,” said Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Barbara Mikulski on Tuesday at T.F. Green Airport. Mikulski is the longest serving female in U.S. history for the Senate. She flew to Rhode Island from Baltimore to review plans for T.F. Green Airport.
After a golf cart tour to give her an idea of plans for renovating and expanding the airport, she, Reed, Mayor Scott Avedisian and Governor Lincoln Chafee collectively discussed benefits to result from a longer runway and other facility improvements.
The hope is that the expansion will not only create jobs within the airport in construction, maintenance and administration matters, but also throughout Rhode Island as more business will come to the state with its transit system.
Reed said, “We want to position Rhode Island to compete for the jobs of today and tomorrow…The changes in the airline industry have made it tougher for airports to compete, but we have one of the best and we are going to continue doing everything we can to help T.F. Green evolve and expand so it can compete and meet Rhode Island’s needs.”
In both 2012 and 2013 T.F. Green was named one of the best airports by Travel+Leisure magazine. Reed mentioned that Rhode Island could become one of the key locations for the New England economy. He said that Rhode Island is in a position to become an international airport with the lengthening of Runway 5-23 from 7,166 to 8,700 feet.
Mikulski said that transportation is essential to economic growth and airports are a necessity for growing businesses. She said, “A great state like Rhode Island deserves a great airport.”
Mikulski said that such an encompassing project like the airport would not happen overnight that it is a job needing “the will and wallet.” She commended Senator Reed and Rhode Island for the will behind the project.
The “wallet” is growing now that $110 million from the Federal Aviation Administration has been invested into the upgrade for the airport.
Chafee said, “Good mass transit will spur economic growth. We continue to invest federal dollars wisely to develop projects such as the expansion and modernization of T.F. Green Airport, which are central to efforts moving Rhode Island forward and for our future.”
The airport was not the only project discussed. Senator Reed mentioned the Apponaug Circulator, saying the project to relieve traffic congestion would help the village and the airport.
“The Apponaug bypass and City Centre Warwick projects are vitally important to our community and the state as a whole, not only for job creation and economic development, but as part of our overall efforts to improve the quality of life in our city,” Avedisian said.
A $20.85 million federal fund installment was received in early May to make safety improvements to Runway 16-34. Completion of this project is estimated to be in 2015. The runway extension is to be completed by December 2017.