Council to consider $4.7 million grant for Barnes taxiway

WESTFIELD- The City Council Finance Committee voted unanimously March 2 to accept a grant for over $4 million for a Westfield Barnes Regional Airport taxiway rehabilitation project.

The $4.7 million grant comes from Mass Development and is entirely funded by the state’s Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force. No funding will be required on the part of the city.

Christopher J. Willenborg, C.M., airport manager at Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS FILE PHOTO)

The 3-0 vote brings the grant to the full Westfeld City Council for a vote March 4.

Airport Director Chris Willenborg said during the committee meeting that the Sierre/Apron taxiway rehabilitation project is for general aviation safety and mission capability for the 104th Fighter Wing. 

“The project addresses safety concerns about back-taxiing across the runway, “ said Willenborg.

He said that the project will allow them to set up the taxiway so that both civilian and military aircraft can safely taxi to certain parts of the airfield.

Bidding for the project begins on March 9 according to Willenborg, with construction scheduled to begin in April. The project is scheduled to last 150 days. 

Ward 3 City Councilor Bridget Matthews-Kane inquired about the potential environmental impacts of the project. Willenborg said that the project has received the proper state and federal permits and that it meets stormwater regulations. A new impervious surface will be provided on the taxiway during the project, so all water in the area will be treated before it is discharged.

Willenborg also pointed out that there are some endangered species of birds that live in the area around the airport.

Part of the reasoning for starting the project in mid-April is to minimize the impact the project will have on the breeding seasons of the endangered birds. 

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