While the Westchester County Board of Legislators has voted to issue $10 million in county bonds to repave and make other improvements to the main runway at the Westchester County Airport, the bonds will cover only part of the project’s full cost, estimated at $21.7 million.
The board’s unanimous approval to issue the bonds came at its March 11 meeting. The balance of the funding is from the Federal Aviation Administration and New York state, with the federal portion set at $11.7 million. The anticipated interest rate on the county-issued bonds is 2.12 percent. The county is expected to pay about $1.1 million per year toward principal and interest on the bonds.
A schedule outlining the four phases of the project obtained by the Business Journal shows that the work will occur overnight from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., beginning Aug. 19. There is a voluntary curfew on flights into and out of the airport between the hours of midnight and 6:30 a.m., so the runway closure during the overnight hours is not anticipated to have extensive impacts on operations. The first phase is scheduled to end on Nov. 23, with additional phases taking place periodically thereafter. The entire job is expected to be completed by Oct. 10, 2020.
The runway is known as 16/34, because of its directional alignment. Planes using it from one end are pointed on a compass heading of 160 degrees, almost south. Planes taking off or landing in the other direction are on a compass heading of 340 degrees, almost north.
In addition to repaving the surface of the 6,549-foot-long by 150-foot-wide runway, portions of the taxiways connecting with the runway will be revitalized and in-pavement lighting as well as taxiway edge lighting will be updated.
On March 15, The Business Council of Westchester’s Coalition for Westchester Airport issued a statement praising the BOL for its unanimous vote on the bond issue.
“One of the most important aspects of airport safety is ensuring that runways have been adequately maintained to ensure a safe and secure operating environment,” said John Ravitz, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the business council, who also leads the airport coalition.
In the runup to the legislature’s vote, representatives of businesses and institutions sent letters expressing support for the runway repaving project to County Executive George Latimer.
Marvin Krislov, president of Pace University, said in a Feb. 26 letter that Pace students, faculty, staff and visitors use the airport frequently as do business leaders recruiting students and academics collaborating on research or attending conferences.
“Our top priority is the safety of our students and community.” Krislov also said, “As we understand it, the runway was last repaved in 1998 and it is now beyond the standard airport runway lifespan of 20 years.”
Joseph M. McShane, president of Fordham University, wrote that Fordham relies on transportation options including the county airport to attract faculty and researchers to its Calder Center in Armonk.
“Fordham University recognizes how important Westchester County Airport is to maintaining the economic vitality of the region, and we are in support of the County’s runway paving project, regular maintenance that will assure the safety of the public who fly in to and out of the area.”