Pease runway to be replaced with federal grant

Pease and Manchester airports will share $18 million in federal grants to make upgrades. The Portsmouth airport will replace a 23-year-old runway with its grant, officials said.

MANCHESTER — The Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Portsmouth International Airport will receive significant upgrades after the two airports together shared $18 million in federal grants, the state’s congressional delegation announced Tuesday.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped craft legislation that granted an additional $1 billion for projects under this Airport Improvement Program that awarded the NH airport work.

In Manchester, a $4.5 million grant will permit two taxiways to be rehabilitated, while half of the money will be used to purchase equipment to augment the airport’s snow removal and its safety and security programs.

“As the busiest airport in New Hampshire, Manchester serves as a gateway to the Granite State for travelers visiting each year, which totaled 1.8 million people in 2018. This grant for the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport will help repair critical airport infrastructure, prepare for winter conditions and ensure the safety and security of passengers, property and equipment,” Shaheen said in a statement. “Ensuring our regional transportation centers have the funding and backing they need is critical to growing our state’s economy, and I’ll keep fighting to secure additional resources for New Hampshire’s infrastructure.”

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig this is an important economic development improvement program.

“The Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is an economic driver for our city and state,” Craig said. “I’m thankful Senator Shaheen, Senator Hassan, Congressman Pappas, and Congresswoman Kuster worked to secure funding for critical investments in our airport, helping to improve service and safety for air passengers.”

Airport Director Ted Kitchens said the upgrades are essential as airport management seeks to attract more airlines to locate here.

“In a region experiencing rapid economic growth, the airport provides a critical link between our community and the global economy,” Kitchens said. “The funding provided through these federal grants helps ensure that this critical link continues to be provided in a safe and efficient manner to our passengers, commercial airlines, cargo airlines, and the general aviation community.”

At Pease, more than $13.5 million in grants will pay to rebuild an aging runway.

The joint civilian and military use airport sees 200,000 people pass through it a year. Half of those are leisure travelers. The other half are soldiers travelling with the Department of Defense.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, said, “Not only will this grant boost economic growth in the region and improve the experience of the civilians who use the airport, but it is also vital for supporting operations at Pease Air National Guard Base.”

Portsmouth International Airport Director Paul Brean said the 11,001-foot-long runway was last worked on 23 years ago.

“The average lifespan is about 20 years, so we got our full use out of it,” Brean said.

Pease has one of the longest runways in the world to support the Air National Guard’s refueling operations, Brean said.

The entire project will cost $24 million. The U.S. Air Force will contribute $6.5 million. The remaining costs will be split by the state of New Hampshire and Pease Development Authority, Brean said.

Brean said paving of the runway will start after winter breaks next year. He hopes the project will be completed by December 2020.

klandrigan@unionleader.com

Union Leader Correspondent Kimberley Haas contributed to this report.